Brandon L Jutras, PhD

Assistant Professor
Fralin Life Sciences Institute
Department of Biochemistry
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA

Not just another brick in the wall: The unusual peptidoglycan of Borrelia burgdorferi

Brandon Jutras (PhD) has been studying the biology and pathogenesis of Lyme disease for 13 years and authored more than 25 peer-reviewed articles, many of which have been published in the top-tier journals. His career began as a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Brian Stevenson at the University of Kentucky where he focused on deciphering the mechanisms of gene regulation in the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. After gaining a deep appreciation for unusual biological features of spirochetes, Dr. Jutras took his molecular skills and passion to the lab of Dr. Christine Jacobs-Wagner at Yale University, a world-renowned bacterial cell biologist. As a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Postdoctoral Fellow Brandon began to study the peptidoglycan sacculus of B. burgdorferi and uncovered several peculiarities about its’ synthesis and roles in pathogenesis. The Jutras lab at Virginia Tech has extended these studies to use peptidoglycan as a bio-tool to understand the cell cycle, morphogenesis, pathogenesis, and antibiotic susceptibility of B. burgdorferi. These principal components form the fundamental basis for understanding, diagnosing, treating, and preventing Lyme disease.


Conference Lecture Summary

The peptidoglycan sacculus is a mesh-like bag that protects bacterial cells from bursting. Virtually all bacteria have similar peptidoglycan structure. Borrelia burgdorferi—the Lyme disease agent— produces peptidoglycan with extremely unusual chemical features. Further, during growth, peptidoglycan is shed and is capable of causing arthritis. Here we will discuss how the Jutras lab is exploiting the unusual properties of B. burgdorferi peptidoglycan to understand and diagnose Lyme disease.

This activity received educational support from:

Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation



And commercial support from:

IGeneX Inc.

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