New PNAS paper that actually looks at probiotic-host interactions on a molecular biology level!
Abstract: Bifidobacteria represent one of the dominant groups of microorganisms colonizing the human infant intestine. Commensal bacteria that interact with a eukaryotic host are believed to express adhesive molecules on their cell surface that bind to specific host cell receptors or soluble macromolecules. Whole-genome transcription profiling of Bifidobacterium bifidum PRL2010, a strain isolated from infant stool, revealed a small number of commonly expressed extracellular proteins, among which were genes that specify sortase-dependent pili. Expression of the coding sequences of these B. bifidum PRL2010 appendages in nonpiliated Lactococcus lactis enhanced adherence to human enterocytes through extracellular matrix protein and bacterial aggregation. Furthermore, such piliated L. lactis cells evoked a higher TNF-α response during murine colonization compared with their nonpiliated parent, suggesting that bifidobacterial sortase-dependent pili not only contribute to adherence but also display immunomodulatory activity.