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Microbiome. 2013 Apr 12;1(1):12. doi: 10.1186/2049-2618-1-12.

Comparative meta-RNA-seq of the vaginal microbiota and differential expression by Lactobacillus iners in health and dysbiosis.

Author information

1
Department of Biochemistry, The University of Western Ontario, London N6A 5C1, Canada. ggloor@uwo.ca.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Bacterial vaginosis (BV), the most common vaginal condition of reproductive-aged women, is associated with a highly diverse and heterogeneous microbiota. Here we present a proof-of-principle analysis to uncover the function of the microbiota using meta-RNA-seq to uncover genes and pathways that potentially differentiate healthy vaginal microbial communities from those in the dysbiotic state of bacterial vaginosis (BV).

RESULTS:

The predominant organism, Lactobacillus iners, was present in both conditions and showed a differing expression profile in BV compared to healthy. Despite its minimal genome, L. iners differentially expressed over 10% of its gene complement. Notably, in a BV environment L. iners increased expression of a cholesterol-dependent cytolysin, and of mucin and glycerol transport and related metabolic enzymes. Genes belonging to a CRISPR system were greatly upregulated suggesting that bacteriophage influence the community. Reflective of L. iners, the bacterial community as a whole demonstrated a preference for glycogen and glycerol as carbon sources under BV conditions. The predicted end-products of metabolism under BV conditions include an abundance of succinate and other short-chain fatty-acids, while healthy conditions are predicted to largely contain lactic acid.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our study underscores the importance of understanding the functional activity of the bacterial community in addition to characterizing the population structure when investigating the human microbiome.

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