Patient genetics is linked to chronic wound microbiome composition and healing

Craig D. Tipton, Randall D. Wolcott, Nicholas E. Sanford, Clint Miller, Gita Pathak, Talisa K. Silzer, Jie Sun, Derek Fleming, Kendra P. Rumbaugh, Todd D. Little, Nicole Phillips, Caleb D. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The clinical importance of microbiomes to the chronicity of wounds is widely appreciated, yet little is understood about patient-specific processes shaping wound microbiome composition. Here, a two-cohort microbiome-genome wide association study is presented through which patient genomic loci associated with chronic wound microbiome diversity were identified. Further investigation revealed that alternative TLN2 and ZNF521 genotypes explained significant inter-patient variation in relative abundance of two key pathogens, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus epidermidis. Wound diversity was lowest in Pseudomonas aeruginosa infected wounds, and decreasing wound diversity had a significant negative linear relationship with healing rate. In addition to microbiome characteristics, age, diabetic status, and genetic ancestry all significantly influenced healing. Using structural equation modeling to identify common variance among SNPs, six loci were sufficient to explain 53% of variation in wound microbiome diversity, which was a 10% increase over traditional multiple regression. Focusing on TLN2, genotype at rs8031916 explained expression differences of alternative transcripts that differ in inclusion of important focal adhesion binding domains. Such differences are hypothesized to relate to wound microbiomes and healing through effects on bacterial exploitation of focal adhesions and/or cellular migration. Related, other associated loci were functionally enriched, often with roles in cytoskeletal dynamics. This study, being the first to identify patient genetic determinants for wound microbiomes and healing, implicates genetic variation determining cellular adhesion phenotypes as important drivers of infection type. The identification of predictive biomarkers for chronic wound microbiomes may serve as risk factors and guide treatment by informing patient-specific tendencies of infection.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1008511
JournalPLoS Pathogens
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2020


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