Sven Pettersson Group

Regulation of gut homeostasis

Biological functions are initiated through the elicitation and receipt of signals: mechanical, chemical or biological. The manner in which the cell receives, relays and interprets a particular signal leads to the emergence of the relevant biological response(s). In many instances these signaling pathways direct the appropriate response leading to normal biological functions. However, when the integrity of the correct signal is breached, the outcome is likely detrimental to the cell and the organism. The task of maintaining this integrity is made more difficult since these pathways often operate as multiple signaling networks, enhancing and canceling a whole series of common modulators.

Our group is trying to understand how transcription factors (TF) receive information from signaling molecules that enables them to activate genes. TFs are important whenever there is a need to adapt the organism to environmental changes. In the gastrointestinal (GI) tract this can be exemplified by food intake and alterations of the gut flora.

Our model system is the alimentary tract. The aim of our studies is to comprehend the genetic and epigenetic events that determine and regulate the function(s) of the epithelial lining (a tissue critical in host responses), in interacting with the microflora, but also following triggering of inflammation as well as repair and remodeling of damaged tissue.

Our group joined MTC in late 2001. Being localized in the G-house, we have the opportunity to work in a great laboratory space full of light and work friendly setting. In addition to myself, one junior group-leader, Velmurugesan Arulampalam, PhD (Gesan), helps out to effectively organize the daily activities of the group. Gesan (a molecular biologist with interests in signal transduction) is focused on the signaling processes that regulate gut homeostasis, in particular the nuclear receptor PPARg and the transcription factor NF-kB. A recent member of our team, PhD Britta Björkholm, will be responsible for the functional genomic approach to understand how microbes contribute to and tune normal gut homeostasis (cellular microbiology).

Our studies involve experiments in cell lines and more complex experiments in mice, either under specific-pathogen-free (SPF) conditions, or kept under germ-free conditions at the core facility of Cellular Microbiology. The use of antisense and siRNA technology, together with transgenic mice expressing the adenoviral receptor on all cells enable us to study gene function in non-transformed cells and in whole organisms. Additionally, we have inhibited expression of one of the subcomponents of NF-kB (p65) by the use of phosphorothioated antisense oligonucleotides in a pilot clinical trial to treat patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The results demonstrate that abrogation of p65 activity has a dramatic effect on the chronic inflammation in these patients. We have also initiated a functional genomic approach of molecular profiling of colonic cells obtained from rodents and humans in collaboration with Index Pharmaceuticals and KTH, Sweden, and the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS). Our focus is on chronic inflammatory disorders in the gut and in the skin. As endpoints we aim to identify critical gene products that could be used for diagnosis and prognosis for IBD, as well as to identify novel genes intimately linked to chronic inflammation, cell growth and differentiation. An additional major task for the group is to develop basic gene expression profiles from tissues like gut and liver from germ-free mice and compare these with profiles obtained from SPF mice.

Work on the Nuclear receptor PPARg

PPARg is a nuclear receptor that not only controls the expression of a large number of genes involved in metabolism, but can also inhibit inflammation. PPARg is expressed at high levels in the colonic mucosa, which is the part of the GI tract containing the highest numbers of luminal bacteria. This anti-inflammatory role suggests that bacteria could regulate the expression of PPARg in the colon and recent work from our group has shown that not only can bacteria regulate the expression of PPARg, but also that a major regulator of PPARg appears to be the TLR4 receptor. Thus, gut homeostasis depends in part on the ability to recognize and respond to bacteria in the appropriate way, by means of modulating gene expression of cells constantly exposed to microorganisms in the lumen of the gut. A major focus of our research is to understand the interaction of signaling pathways between TLR4-PPARg and control of NF-kB activity. As of January 2003 we are a part of the SSF sponsored Strategic Centre for Receptor Biology and Signal Transduction studies, with Professor Klas Kärre as its director.

Core facility for Germ Free Research

Frida Tjärnberg , Johanna Aspsäter, Evelina Edén


Our Gut Microbiome: The Evolving Inner Self.
Kundu P, Blacher E, Elinav E, Pettersson S
Cell 2017 Dec;171(7):1481-1493

ILSI Southeast Asia Region conference proceedings: The gut, its microbes and health: relevance for Asia.
Lee Y, Conway P, Pettersson S, Nair G, Surono I, Egayanti Y, et al
Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2017 ;26(5):957-971

Bidirectional communication between the Aryl hydrocarbon Receptor (AhR) and the microbiome tunes host metabolism.
Korecka A, Dona A, Lahiri S, Tett A, Al-Asmakh M, Braniste V, et al
NPJ Biofilms Microbiomes 2016 ;2():16014

Application ofH NMR spectroscopy to the metabolic phenotyping of rodent brain extracts: A metabonomic study of gut microbial influence on host brain metabolism.
Swann J, Garcia-Perez I, Braniste V, Wilson I, Sidaway J, Nicholson J, et al
J Pharm Biomed Anal 2017 Sep;143():141-146

Host-microbiome interactions: the aryl hydrocarbon receptor and the central nervous system.
Lee H, McPherson Z, Tan B, Korecka A, Pettersson S
J. Mol. Med. 2017 01;95(1):29-39

Quantum changes in Helicobacter pylori gene expression accompany host-adaptation.
Chua E, Wise M, Khosravi Y, Seow S, Amoyo A, Pettersson S, et al
DNA Res. 2017 Feb;24(1):37-49

Eph receptor interclass cooperation is required for the regulation of cell proliferation.
Jurek A, Genander M, Kundu P, Catchpole T, He X, Strååt K, et al
Exp. Cell Res. 2016 Oct;348(1):10-22

Ablating the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) in CD11c+ cells perturbs intestinal epithelium development and intestinal immunity.
Chng S, Kundu P, Dominguez-Brauer C, Teo W, Kawajiri K, Fujii-Kuriyama Y, et al
Sci Rep 2016 Apr;6():23820

Cysteinyl leukotriene 1 receptor influences intestinal polyp incidence in a gender-specific manner in the ApcMin/+ mouse model.
Savari S, Chandrashekar N, Osman J, Douglas D, Bellamkonda K, Jönsson G, et al
Carcinogenesis 2016 05;37(5):491-9

Helicobacter pylori and gut microbiota modulate energy homeostasis prior to inducing histopathological changes in mice.
Khosravi Y, Bunte R, Chiow K, Tan T, Wong W, Poh Q, et al
Gut Microbes 2016 ;7(1):48-53

Hepatic circadian clock oscillators and nuclear receptors integrate microbiome-derived signals.
Montagner A, Korecka A, Polizzi A, Lippi Y, Blum Y, Canlet C, et al
Sci Rep 2016 Feb;6():20127

The gut microbiota keeps enteric glial cells on the move; prospective roles of the gut epithelium and immune system.
Kabouridis P, Lasrado R, McCallum S, Chng S, Snippert H, Clevers H, et al
Gut Microbes 2015 ;6(6):398-403

An EphB-Abl signaling pathway is associated with intestinal tumor initiation and growth.
Kundu P, Genander M, Strååt K, Classon J, Ridgway R, Tan E, et al
Sci Transl Med 2015 Apr;7(281):281ra44

Helicobacter pylori infection can affect energy modulating hormones and body weight in germ free mice.
Khosravi Y, Seow S, Amoyo A, Chiow K, Tan T, Wong W, et al
Sci Rep 2015 Mar;5():8731

Microbiota Controls the Homeostasis of Glial Cells in the Gut Lamina Propria
Panagiotis S. Kabouridis, Reena Lasrado, Sarah McCallum, Song Hui Chng, Hugo J. Snippert, Hans Clevers, Sven Pettersson, Vassilis Pachnis
Neuron. January 08, 2015. DOI:

The gut microbiota influences blood-brain barrier permeability in mice
Viorica Braniste, Maha Al-Asmakh, Czeslawa Kowal, Farhana Anuar, Afrouz Abbaspour, Miklós Tóth, Agata Korecka, Nadja Bakocevic, Ng Lai Guan, Parag Kundu, Balázs Gulyás, Christer Halldin, Kjell Hultenby, Harriet Nilsson, Hans Hebert, Bruce T. Volpe, Betty Diamond, Sven Pettersson
Sci. Transl. Med. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3009759

Immunology: Mammalian watchdog targets bacteria.
Kundu P, Pettersson S
Nature 2014 Aug;512(7515):377-8

The gut microbiota and developmental programming of the testis in mice.
Al-Asmakh M, Stukenborg J, Reda A, Anuar F, Strand M, Hedin L, et al
PLoS ONE 2014 ;9(8):e103809

Enterococcus faecalis from healthy infants modulates inflammation through MAPK signaling pathways.
Wang S, Hibberd M, Pettersson S, Lee Y
PLoS ONE 2014 ;9(5):e97523

Absence of intestinal PPARγ aggravates acute infectious colitis in mice through a lipocalin-2-dependent pathway.
Kundu P, Ling T, Korecka A, Li Y, D'Arienzo R, Bunte R, et al
PLoS Pathog. 2014 Jan;10(1):e1003887

ANGPTL4 expression induced by butyrate and rosiglitazone in human intestinal epithelial cells utilizes independent pathways.
Korecka A, de Wouters T, Cultrone A, Lapaque N, Pettersson S, Doré J, et al
Am. J. Physiol. Gastrointest. Liver Physiol. 2013 Jun;304(11):G1025-37

Constitutive TLR4 signalling in intestinal epithelium reduces tumor load by increasing apoptosis in APC(Min/+) mice.
Li Y, Teo W, Low M, Meijer L, Sanderson I, Pettersson S, et al
Oncogene 2014 Jan;33(3):369-77

PPARG binding landscapes in macrophages suggest a genome-wide contribution of PU.1 to divergent PPARG binding in human and mouse.
Pott S, Kamrani N, Bourque G, Pettersson S, Liu E
PLoS ONE 2012 ;7(10):e48102

Enterococcus faecalis: a biological marker predicting the emergence of necrotizing enterocolitis.
Braniste V, Pettersson S
Acta Paediatr. 2012 Nov;101(11):1112-3

Gut microbial communities modulating brain development and function.
Al-Asmakh M, Anuar F, Zadjali F, Rafter J, Pettersson S
Gut Microbes ;3(4):366-73

Therapeutic modulation of microbiota-host metabolic interactions.
Holmes E, Kinross J, Gibson G, Burcelin R, Jia W, Pettersson S, et al
Sci Transl Med 2012 Jun;4(137):137rv6

Host-gut microbiota metabolic interactions.
Nicholson J, Holmes E, Kinross J, Burcelin R, Gibson G, Jia W, et al
Science 2012 Jun;336(6086):1262-7

Lipocalin 2 performs contrasting, location-dependent roles in APCmin tumor initiation and progression.
Reilly P, Teo W, Low M, Amoyo-Brion A, Dominguez-Brauer C, Elia A, et al
Oncogene 2013 Mar;32(10):1233-9

Gut microbiota accelerate tumor growth via c-jun and STAT3 phosphorylation in APCMin/+ mice.
Li Y, Kundu P, Seow S, de Matos C, Aronsson L, Chin K, et al
Carcinogenesis 2012 Jun;33(6):1231-8

Normal gut microbiota modulates brain development and behavior.
Diaz Heijtz R, Wang S, Anuar F, Qian Y, Björkholm B, Samuelsson A, et al
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2011 Feb;108(7):3047-52

Analysis of 39 Crohn's disease risk loci in Swedish inflammatory bowel disease patients.
Törkvist L, Halfvarson J, Ong R, Lördal M, Sjöqvist U, Bresso F, et al
Inflamm. Bowel Dis. 2010 Jun;16(6):907-9

Genome-wide association identifies multiple ulcerative colitis susceptibility loci.
McGovern D, Gardet A, Törkvist L, Goyette P, Essers J, Taylor K, et al
Nat. Genet. 2010 Apr;42(4):332-7

SB939, a novel potent and orally active histone deacetylase inhibitor with high tumor exposure and efficacy in mouse models of colorectal cancer.
Novotny-Diermayr V, Sangthongpitag K, Hu C, Wu X, Sausgruber N, Yeo P, et al
Mol. Cancer Ther. 2010 Mar;9(3):642-52

Publications 2004-2009

Sven Pettersson Group Publications 2004-2009 (pdf)

Group members


Sven Pettersson

Phone: +46-(0)8-524 888 86
Organizational unit: Sven Pettersson group

Afrouz AbbaspourPhD student, Graduate Student
Shawon LahiriAssociated
Sven PetterssonProfessor
Musarrat Maisha RezaPostdoc

 Biomedical Scientist Annika Samuelsson

 PhD student Sebastian Pott

 PhD student Agata Korecka