Disruption of bbe02 by insertion of a luciferase gene increases transformation efficiency of Borrelia burgdorferi and allows live imaging in lyme disease susceptible C3H mice

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Abstract

© 2015 Chan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Lyme disease is the most prevalent tick-borne disease in North America and Europe. The causative agent, Borrelia burgdorferi persists in the white-footed mouse. Infection with B. burgdorferi can cause acute to persistent multisystemic Lyme disease in humans. Some disease manifestations are also exhibited in the mouse model of Lyme disease. Genetic manipulation of B. burgdorferi remains difficult. First, B. burgdorferi contains a large number of endogenous plasmids with unique sequences encoding unknown functions. The presence of these plasmids needs to be confirmed after each genetic manipulation. Second, the restriction modification defense systems, including that encoded by bbe02 gene lead to low transformation efficiency in B. burgdorferi. Therefore, studying the molecular basis of Lyme pathogenesis is a challenge. Furthermore, investigation of the role of a specific B. burgdorferi protein throughout infection requires a large number of mice, making it labor intensive and expensive. To overcome the problems associated with low transformation efficiency and to reduce the number of mice needed for experiments, we disrupted the bbe02 gene of a highly infectious and pathogenic B. burgdorferi strain, N40 D10/E9 through insertion of a firefly luciferase gene. The bbe02 mutant shows higher transformation efficiency and maintains luciferase activity throughout infection as detected by live imaging of mice. Infectivity and pathogenesis of this mutant were comparable to the wild-type N40 strain. This mutant will serve as an ideal parental strain to examine the roles of various B. burgdorferi proteins in Lyme pathogenesis in the mouse model in the future.

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Chan, K., Alter, L., Barthold, S. W., & Parveen, N. (2015). Disruption of bbe02 by insertion of a luciferase gene increases transformation efficiency of Borrelia burgdorferi and allows live imaging in lyme disease susceptible C3H mice. PLoS ONE, 10(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0129532

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