« Bacteria use carbohydrate-binding proteins (CBPs), such as lectins and carbohydrate-binding modules (CBMs), to anchor to specific sugars on host surfaces. CBPs in the gut microbiome are well studied, but their roles in the vagina microbiome and involvement in sexually transmitted infections, cervical cancer and preterm birth are largely unknown. We established a classification system for lectins and designed Hidden Markov Model (HMM) profiles for data mining of bacterial genomes, resulting in identification of >100,000 predicted bacterial lectins available at unilectin.eu/bacteria. Genome screening of 90 isolates from 21 vaginal bacterial species shows that those associated with infection and inflammation produce a larger CBPs repertoire, thus enabling them to potentially bind a wider array of glycans in the vagina. Both the number of predicted bacterial CBPs and their specificities correlated with pathogenicity. This study provides new insights into potential mechanisms of colonisation by commensals and potential pathogens of the reproductive tract that underpin health and disease states. »
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