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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2009

Shotgun metaproteomics of the human distal gut microbiota

Verberkmoes, Nathan C.; Russell, Alison L.; Shah, Manesh; Godzik, Adam; Rosenquist, Magnus; Halfvarson, Jonas; Lefsrud, Mark G.; Apajalahti, Juha; Tysk, Curt; Hettich, Robert L.; Jansson, Janet K.


The human gut contains a dense, complex and diverse microbial community, comprising the gut microbiome. Metagenomics has recently revealed the composition of genes in the gut microbiome, but provides no direct information about which genes are expressed or functioning. Therefore, our goal was to develop a novel approach to directly identify microbial proteins in fecal samples to gain information about the genes expressed and about key microbial functions in the human gut. We used a non-targeted, shotgun mass spectrometry-based whole community proteomics, or metaproteomics, approach for the first deep proteome measurements of thousands of proteins in human fecal samples, thus demonstrating this approach on the most complex sample type to date. The resulting metaproteomes had a skewed distribution relative to the metagenome, with more proteins for translation, energy production and carbohydrate metabolism when compared to what was earlier predicted from metagenomics. Human proteins, including antimicrobial peptides, were also identified, providing a non-targeted glimpse of the host response to the microbiota. Several unknown proteins represented previously undescribed microbial pathways or host immune responses, revealing a novel complex interplay between the human host and its associated microbes.


microbiome; human gut; metaproteome; shotgun proteomics; metagenomics; antimicrobial peptide

Published in

ISME Journal
2009, volume: 3, number: 2, pages: 179-189

Authors' information

Verberkmoes, Nathan C
Russell, Alison L
Shah, Manesh
Godzik, Adam
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Microbiology
Halfvarson, Jonas
Lefsrud, Mark G
McGill University
Apajalahti, Juha
Tysk, Curt
Hettich, Robert L
Jansson, Janet
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Microbiology

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