VIRGO, a comprehensive non-redundant gene catalog, reveals extensive within community intraspecies diversity in the human vagina

Bing Ma, Michael France, Jonathan Crabtree, Johanna B. Holm, Mike Humphrys, Rebecca Brotman, Jacques Ravel

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Jun 27, 2019
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Received Date: 14th June 19

Analysis of metagenomic and metatranscriptomic data is complicated and typically requires extensive computational resources. Leveraging a curated reference database of genes encoded by members of the target microbiome can make these analyses more tractable. Unfortunately, there is no such reference database available for the vaginal microbiome. In this study, we assembled a comprehensive human vaginal non-redundant gene catalog (VIRGO) from 264 vaginal metagenomes and 416 genomes of urogenital bacterial isolates. VIRGO includes 0.95 million non-redundant genes compiled from a total of 5.5 million genes belonging to 318 unique bacterial species. We show that VIRGO covers more than 95% of the vaginal bacterial gene content in metagenomes from North American, African, and Chinese women. The gene catalog was extensively functionally annotated from 17 diverse protein databases, and importantly taxonomy was assigned through in silico binning of genes derived from metagenomic assemblies. To further enable focused analyses of individual genes and proteins, we also clustered the non-redundant genes into vaginal orthologous groups (VOG). The gene-centric design of VIRGO and VOG provides an easily accessible tool to comprehensively characterize the structure and function of vaginal metagenome and metatranscriptome datasets. To highlight the utility of VIRGO, we analyzed 1,507 additional vaginal metagenomes, uncovering an as of yet undetected high degree of intraspecies diversity within and across vaginal microbiota. VIRGO offers a convenient reference database and toolkit that will facilitate a more in-depth understanding of the role of vaginal microorganisms in women’s health and reproductive outcomes.

Read in full at bioRxiv.

This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.

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