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Infect Immun. 2011 Feb;79(2):732-44. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00882-10. Epub 2010 Nov 15.

CsrA modulates levels of lipoproteins and key regulators of gene expression critical for pathogenic mechanisms of Borrelia burgdorferi.

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  • 1South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases and Department of Biology, The University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas 78249, USA.


Carbon storage regulator A (CsrA) is an RNA binding protein that has been characterized in many bacterial species to play a central regulatory role by modulating several metabolic processes. We recently showed that a homolog of CsrA in Borrelia burgdorferi (CsrA(Bb), BB0184) was upregulated in response to propagation of B. burgdorferi under mammalian host-specific conditions. In order to further delineate the role of CsrA(Bb), we generated a deletion mutant designated ES10 in a linear plasmid 25-negative isolate of B. burgdorferi strain B31 (ML23). The deletion mutant was screened by PCR and Southern blot hybridization, and a lack of synthesis of CsrA(Bb) in ES10 was confirmed by immunoblot analysis. Analysis of ES10 propagated at pH 6.8/37°C revealed a significant reduction in the levels of OspC, DbpA, BBK32, and BBA64 compared to those for the parental wild-type strain propagated under these conditions, while there were no significant changes in the levels of either OspA or P66. Moreover, the levels of two regulatory proteins, RpoS and BosR, were also found to be lower in ES10 than in the control strain. Quantitative real-time reverse transcription-PCR analysis of total RNA extracted from the parental strain and csrA(Bb) mutant revealed significant differences in gene expression consistent with the changes at the protein level. Neither the csrA(Bb) mutant nor the trans-complemented strain was capable of infection following intradermal needle inoculation in C3H/HeN mice at either 10³ or 10⁵ spirochetes per mouse. The further characterization of molecular basis of regulation mediated by CsrA(Bb) will provide significant insights into the pathophysiology of B. burgdorferi.

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