The NIH Human Microbiome Project (HMP) has produced several hundred metagenomic data sets, allowing studies of the many functional elements in human-associated microbial communities. Here, we survey the distribution of oral spirochetes implicated in dental diseases in normal human individuals, using recombination sites associated with the chromosomal integron in Treponema genomes, taking advantage of the multiple copies of the integron recombination sites (repeats) in the genomes, and using a targeted assembly approach thatwe have developed. We find that integron-containing Treponema species are present in 80%of the normal human subjects included in the HMP. Further, we are able to de novo assemble the integron gene cassettes using our constrained assembly approach, which employs a unique application of the de Bruijn graph assembly information;most of these cassette genes were not assembled in whole-metagenome assemblies and could not be identified by mapping sequencing reads onto the known reference Treponema genomes due to the dynamic nature of integron gene cassettes. Our studysignificantly enriches the gene pool known to be carried by Treponema chromosomal integrons, totaling 826 (598 97% nonredundant) enes. We characterize the functions of these gene cassettes: many of these genes have unknown functions. The integron gene cassette arrays found in the human microbiome are extraordinarily dynamic, with different microbial communities sharing only a small number of common genes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
- Food Science