Analysis of the transcriptome of Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease, during infection has proven difficult due to the low spirochete loads in the mammalian tissues. To overcome this challenge, we have developed an In Vivo Expression Technology (IVET) system for identification of B. burgdorferi genes expressed during an active murine infection. Spirochetes lacking linear plasmid (lp) 25 are non-infectious yet highly transformable.Mouse infection can be restored to these spirochetes by expression of the essential lp25-encoded pnc A gene alone. Therefore, this IVET-based approach selects for in vivo-expressed promoters that drive expression of pncA resulting in the recovery of infectious spirochetes lacking lp25 following a three week infection in mice.Screening of approximately 15,000 clones in mice identified 289 unique in vivo-expressed DNA fragments from across all 22 replicons of the B. burgdorferi B31 genome. The in vivo-expressed candidate genes putatively encode proteins in various functional categories including antigenicity, metabolism, motility, nutrient transport and unknown functions. Candidate gene bbk46 on essential virulence plasmid lp36 was found to be highly induced in vivo and to be RpoS-independent. The bbk46 gene was dispensable for B. burgdorferi infection in mice. Our findings highlight the power of the IVET-based approach for identification of B. burgdorferi in vivo-expressed genes, which might not be discovered using other genome-wide gene expression methods. Further investigation of the novel in vivo-expressed candidate genes will contribute to advancing the understanding of molecular mechanisms of B.burgdorferi survival and pathogenicity in the mammalian host.
Ellis, T. C. houdhury, Jain, S., Linowski, A. K., Rike, K., Bestor, A., Rosa, P. A., … Jewett, M. W. (2014). Correction: In Vivo Expression Technology Identifies a Novel Virulence Factor Critical for Borrelia burgdorferi Persistence in Mice. PLoS Pathogens, 10(6), e1004260. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1004260