Lyme disease: Insights on Infectious Pathogen

Lyme Disease Prevention Therapeutic

Science Direct (Stevensen, B.) 08.2023, published “The Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, as a model vector-borne pathogen: insights on regulation of gene and protein expression.” In order to complete its infectious cycle, B. burgdorferi must detect whether it is inside a tick or inside a vertebrate, which requires outer surface proteins to mediate different processes for successful colonization and host cell invasion. In this investigation, Stevensen has observed that the Lyme causing spirochetal bacteria, may have a limited ability to perceive its external environment in contrast to prior assumptions.

Investigations of the molecular functions through which the Lyme bacteria controls production of virulence-associated factors such as ERP (OspEF-related) outer surface proteins has resulted in development of a model for how B. burgdorferi controls expression of its diverse proteins. Changes in expression of genes and proteins are found to be driven by functional and metabolic states unique to distinct points in the infectious cycle of the Lyme bacteria. 

Current available data suggests that the Lyme bacteria infectious cycle between ticks and vertebrates has enabled the spirochete to evolve regulatory systems that respond to functional cues during that cycle. These findings are in contrast to many early hypotheses about how the bacteria functions; and this new knowledge could lead to targets for new preventative and curative therapies. The author notes that these findings may apply to other vector borne pathogens. 

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