Carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZymes) in the gut microbiome.
The 1013-1014 microorganisms present in the human gut (collectively known as the human gut microbiota) dedicate substantial percentages of their genomes to the degradation and uptake of carbohydrates, indicating the importance of this class of molecules. Carbohydrates function not only as a carbon source for these bacteria but also as a means of attachment to the host, and a barrier to infection of the host. In this Review, we focus on the diversity of carbohydrate-active enzymes (CAZymes), how gut microorganisms use them for carbohydrate degradation, the different chemical mechanisms of these CAZymes and the roles that these microorganisms and their CAZymes have in human health and disease. We also highlight examples of how enzymes from this treasure trove have been used in manipulation of the microbiota for improved health and treatment of disease, in remodelling the glycans on biopharmaceuticals and in the potential production of universal O-type donor blood.