AIMS: The aim of this work was to engineer a gut commensal bacterium, Bacteroidesovatus, to produce and secrete a biologically active cytokine in a regulated manner as a basis for novel immunotherapies for chronic gut disorders. METHODS AND RESULTS: Bacteroides ovatus was engineered to produce murine interleukin-2 (MuIL2) intracellularly in response to xylan in culture media by inserting the MuIL2 gene into the xylanase operon of the organism. A second strain was engineered to secrete MuIL2 by adding Bacteroides fragilis enterotoxin secretion signal sequence to the protein. The recombinant strains produced MuIL2 only in the presence of xylan as determined by ELISA of cell lysates and culture supernatants. The IL2-dependent cell line CTLL-2 was used to demonstrate that MuIL2 produced by both B. ovatus strains was biologically active. This activity could be blocked by an anti-IL2 neutralizing antibody. The xylan-inducible nature of this system was demonstrated by RT-PCR. CONCLUSIONS: Bacteroides ovatus was successfully engineered to produce and secrete biologically active MuIL2 in a xylan-inducible manner. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: The production and secretion of a biologically active mammalian protein by a member of the gut microflora could lead to the development of new long-term immunotherapies for inflammatory gut diseases.