Use of the Cre-lox Recombination System To Investigate the lp54 Gene Requirement in the Infectious Cycle of Borrelia burgdorferi

Laboratory of Zoonotic Pathogens, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, Hamilton, Montana 59840, USA.
Infection and immunity (Impact Factor: 3.73). 03/2010; 78(6):2397-407. DOI: 10.1128/IAI.01059-09
Source: PubMed


Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, has a complex genome consisting of a linear chromosome and up to 21 linear and circular
plasmids. These plasmids encode numerous proteins critical to the spirochete's infectious cycle and many hypothetical proteins
whose functions and requirements are unknown. The conserved linear plasmid lp54 encodes several proteins important for survival
in the mouse-tick infectious cycle, but the majority of the proteins are of unknown function and lack homologs outside the
borreliae. In this study we adapted the Cre-lox recombination system to create large deletions in the B. burgdorferi genome. Using Cre-lox, we systematically investigated the contribution of 14 adjacent genes on the left arm of lp54 to the overall infectivity
of B. burgdorferi. The deletion of the region of lp54 encompassing bba07 to bba14 had no significant effect on the infectious cycle of B. burgdorferi. The deletion of bba01 to bba07 resulted in a slight growth defect but did not significantly affect the ability of B. burgdorferi to complete the infectious cycle. This study demonstrated the utility of the Cre-lox system to efficiently explore gene requirements in B. burgdorferi and surprisingly revealed that a large number of the highly conserved proteins encoded on lp54 are not required to complete
the infectious cycle.

  • Source
    • "Construction of pBSV2*TT vector. Vector pBSV2* (Bestor et al., 2010), a derivative of pBSV2 (Stewart et al., 2001), was generated by removal of a second EcoRI site present outside the multiple cloning site of pBSV2 by using targeted PCR mutagenesis (Bestor et al., 2010). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The conversion of nicotinamide to nicotinic acid by nicotinamidase enzymes is a critical step in maintaining NAD(+) homeostasis and contributes to numerous important biological processes in diverse organisms. In Borrelia burgdorferi, the nicotinamidase enzyme, PncA, is required for spirochaete survival throughout the infectious cycle. Mammals lack nicotinamidases and therefore PncA may serve as a therapeutic target for Lyme disease. Contrary to the in vivo importance of PncA, the current annotation for the pncA ORF suggests that the encoded protein may be inactive due to the absence of an N-terminal aspartic acid residue that is a conserved member of the catalytic triad of characterized PncA proteins. Herein, we have used genetic and biochemical strategies to determine the N-terminal sequence of B. burgdorferi PncA. Our data demonstrate that the PncA protein is 24 aa longer than the currently annotated sequence and that pncA translation is initiated from the rare, non-canonical initiation codon AUU. These findings are an important first step in understanding the catalytic function of this in vivo-essential protein.
    Preview · Article · Jul 2011 · Microbiology
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease in North America, is an invasive pathogen that causes persistent multiorgan manifestations in humans and other mammals. Genetic studies of this bacterium are complicated by the presence of multiple plasmid replicons, many of which are readily lost during in vitro culture. The analysis of B. burgdorferi plasmid content by plasmid-specific PCR and agarose gel electrophoresis or other existing techniques is informative, but these techniques are cumbersome and challenging to perform in a high-throughput manner. In this study, a PCR-based Luminex assay was developed for determination of the plasmid content of the strain B. burgdorferi B31. This multiplex, high-throughput method allows simultaneous detection of the plasmid contents of many B. burgdorferi strains in a 96-well format. The procedure was used to evaluate the occurrence of plasmid loss in 44 low-passage B. burgdorferi B31 clones and in a library of over 4,000 signature-tagged mutagenesis (STM) transposon mutant clones. This analysis indicated that only 40% of the clones contained all plasmids, with (in order of decreasing frequency) lp5, lp56, lp28-1, lp25, cp9, lp28-4, lp28-2, and lp21 being the most commonly missing plasmids. These results further emphasize the need for careful plasmid analysis in Lyme disease Borrelia studies. Adaptations of this approach may also be useful in the evaluation of plasmid content and chromosomal gene variations in additional Lyme disease Borrelia strains and other organisms with variable genomes and in the correlation of these genetic differences with pathogenesis and other biological properties.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2011 · Applied and Environmental Microbiology
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, exists in a complex enzootic cycle, transiting between its vector, Ixodes ticks, and a diverse range of vertebrate hosts. B. burgdorferi linear plasmid 38 (lp38) contains several genes that are differentially regulated in response to conditions mimicking the tick or mouse environments, suggesting that these plasmid-borne genes may encode proteins important for the B. burgdorferi infectious cycle. Some of these genes encode potential virulence factors, including hypothetical lipoproteins as well as a putative membrane transport system. To characterize the role of lp38 in the B. burgdorferi infectious cycle, we constructed a shuttle vector to selectively displace lp38 from the B. burgdorferi genome and analyzed the resulting clones to confirm the loss of lp38. We found that, in vitro, clones lacking lp38 were similar to isogenic wild-type bacteria, both in growth rate and in antigenic protein production. We analyzed these strains in an experimental mouse-tick infectious cycle, and our results demonstrate that clones lacking lp38 are fully infectious in a mouse, can efficiently colonize the tick vector, and are readily transmitted to a naive host.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · Infection and immunity
Show more