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Cell Metab. 2014 Nov 4;20(5):731-741. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2014.10.003. Epub 2014 Nov 4.

Determining microbial products and identifying molecular targets in the human microbiome.

Author information

1
Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA; Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA.
2
Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA; Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA. Electronic address: xmorgan@hsph.harvard.edu.
3
Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA; Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA. Electronic address: chuttenh@hsph.harvard.edu.

Abstract

Human-associated microbes are the source of many bioactive microbial products (proteins and metabolites) that play key functions both in human host pathways and in microbe-microbe interactions. Culture-independent studies now provide an accelerated means of exploring novel bioactives in the human microbiome; however, intriguingly, a substantial fraction of the microbial metagenome cannot be mapped to annotated genes or isolate genomes and is thus of unknown function. Meta'omic approaches, including metagenomic sequencing, metatranscriptomics, metabolomics, and integration of multiple assay types, represent an opportunity to efficiently explore this large pool of potential therapeutics. In combination with appropriate follow-up validation, high-throughput culture-independent assays can be combined with computational approaches to identify and characterize novel and biologically interesting microbial products. Here we briefly review the state of microbial product identification and characterization and discuss possible next steps to catalog and leverage the large uncharted fraction of the microbial metagenome.

PMID:
25440055
PMCID:
PMC4254638
DOI:
10.1016/j.cmet.2014.10.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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