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J Bacteriol. 2007 Apr;189(7):2653-9. Epub 2007 Jan 19.

Regulators of expression of the oligopeptide permease A proteins of Borrelia burgdorferi.

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  • 1Tufts-New England Medical Center, Box 41, 750 Washington St., Boston, MA 02111, USA.


Borrelia burgdorferi undergoes an infectious cycle that requires adaptation to different hosts and marked differences in environment. B. burgdorferi copes with its different environments by regulating the expression of proteins required for survival in specific settings. The B. burgdorferi oligopeptide permease (Opp) is one of only a few transporters encoded by the B. burgdorferi genome. Opp proteins in other bacteria serve multiple environmental adaptation functions. B. burgdorferi appears to broaden the usage of this transporter by utilizing five different substrate binding proteins (OppA proteins) that interact with the integral membrane components of the transporter. Expression of the OppA proteins is individually regulated and may play different roles in adaptation to host environments. Very little is known about the mechanisms used by B. burgdorferi to regulate the expression of different OppA proteins. Here we show that the alternative sigma factors, RpoS and RpoN, regulate the expression of oppA5 but not that of other oppA genes. Using a reporter assay with Escherichia coli and gel shift binding assays, we also show that the B. burgdorferi BosR/Fur homologue interacts with the oppA4 promoter and that another candidate transcription factor, EbfC, interacts with the oppA5 promoter. Binding to the promoters was confirmed by gel shift assays. Expression of BosR/Fur in its different hosts does appear to parallel the expression of oppA4. A better understanding of the factors involved in gene regulation in B. burgdorferi will help to identify coregulated proteins that may cooperate to allow the organism to survive in a specific environment.

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