The skin is a critical organ providing barrier function between the host and environment, yet provides a range of niches for diverse microbial communities. The skin microbiota play an increasingly recognized role in immunity and local inflammatory responses and are associated with chronic inflammatory diseases afflicting the skin. We previously demonstrated an important role of the skin microbiota in a mouse model of the autoimmune skin blistering disease epidermolysis bullosa acquisita. More recently, we mapped putative host gene-microbe interactions at fine-scale genomic resolution by analyzing bacterial 16S rRNA transcripts.
In order to characterize these putative host-microbe interactions at the functional level, we will (i) define the taxonomy of the involved bacterial traits to the species level using extended metagenomic analyses and (ii) further validate the involvement of host candidate genes identified within QTL intervals. This will serve as a basis for cultivation of candidate bacteria and subsequent experiments to characterize the nature of bacterial interactions with the host immune system.