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Author: Ran Blekhman
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Genetic and transcriptional analysis of human host response to healthy gut microbiome


Created on 13th June 2016

Allison L Richards; Michael B Burns; Adnan Alazizi; Luis B Barreiro; Roger Pique-Regi; Ran Blekhman; Francesca Luca;


Many studies have demonstrated the importance of the gut microbiome in healthy and disease states. However, establishing the causality of host- microbiome interactions in humans is still challenging. Here, we describe a novel experimental system to define the transcriptional response induced by the microbiome in human cells and to shed light on the molecular mechanisms underlying host-gut microbiome interactions. In primary human colonic epithelial cells, we identified over 6,000 genes that change expression at various time points following co-culturing with the gut microbiome of a healthy individual. The differentially expressed genes are enriched for genes associated with several microbiome-related diseases, such as obesity and colorectal cancer. In addition, our experimental system allowed us to identify 87 host SNPs that show allele-specific expression in 69 genes. Furthermore, for 12 SNPs in 12 different genes, allele-specific expression is conditional on the exposure to the microbiome. Of these 12 genes, eight have been associated with diseases linked to the gut microbiome, specifically colorectal cancer, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Our study demonstrates a scalable approach to study host-gut microbiome interactions and can be used to identify putative mechanisms for the interplay between host genetics and microbiome in health and disease.

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