In situ reprogramming of gut bacteria by oral delivery


Abundant links between the gut microbiota and human health indicate that modification of bacterial function could be a powerful therapeutic strategy. The inaccessibility of the gut and inter-connections between gut bacteria and the host make it difficult to precisely target bacterial functions without disrupting the microbiota and/or host physiology. Herein we describe a multidisciplinary approach to modulate the expression of a specific bacterial gene within the gut by oral administration. We demonstrate that an engineered temperate phage lambda expressing a programmable dCas9 represses a targeted E. coli gene in the mammalian gut. To facilitate phage administration while minimizing disruption to host processes, we develop an aqueous-based encapsulation formulation with a microbiota-based release mechanism and show that it facilitates oral delivery of phage in vivo. Finally we combine these technologies and show that bacterial gene expression in the mammalian gut can be precisely modified in situ with a single oral dose. It is difficult to precisely target bacterial populations in the mammalian gut. Here the authors use encapsulated phages to deliver dCas9 to E. coli in the mouse gut to modulate RFP expression.