The microbiome of the human body acts as an interface mediating the human response to surrounding microbial environments, daily life cycles, and disease. Bacterial strains within the body can directly interact with the mechanisms of disease through the production of natural antibiotics and preliminary immune signaling. The recently discovered lung microbiome plays a fundamental role in the pathology of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and cystic fibrosis, all of which are diseases heavily influenced by the body’s own immune response. However, gaps in knowledge exist regarding the types of microbial inhabitants and the formation of an immune-bacterial relationship. To identify factors contributing to the lung microbiome, the study aimed to characterize essential microbial inhabitants of the lung and observe changes in microbial communities due to alterations in the adaptive immune system. We utilized 16S metagenomic analysis to determine the lung microbiome from a cohort of Rag2 null, immunocompromised mice. This data was used to map a microbial profile for the diseased lung by physical region, which was then compared to the standard communities observed in a set of normal mice lungs. The study found that although initial bacterial load was similar across all samples, the species diversity of the lung communities was promoted by the presence of an adaptive immune system. However, the Rag2 knockout mouse showed significantly less species diversity. Therefore, this study offers a platform for metagenomic exploration of the pulmonary microbiome and its functionality to help guide the formation of treatments for immune dependent pulmonary conditions.
PROJECT: Identifying interactions between pulmonary bacterial communities and the immune system
My time at the Broad Institute through SRPG has changed the way I perceive the scientific discipline and the way I perceive myself. When I joined SRPG it was clear that the program coordinators, mentors, and the Broad community as a whole was committed to challenging our cohort. But the challenge was not just an academic or intellectual one. To my surprise, the most important thing I learned at the Broad had less to do with biology and more to do with the realization that community and collaboration are essential to the scientific enterprise, both in overcoming difficult obstacles and achieving success. I cherish the experience and friendships I gained and can only hope to return soon to the Broad community.