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Microbes Infect. 2013 Sep-Oct;15(10-11):729-37. doi: 10.1016/j.micinf.2013.06.001. Epub 2013 Jun 15.

The lipoprotein La7 contributes to Borrelia burgdorferi persistence in ticks and their transmission to naïve hosts.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA; Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.


La7, an immunogenic outer membrane lipoprotein of Borrelia burgdorferi, produced during infection, has been shown to play a redundant role in mammalian infectivity. Here we show that La7 facilitates pathogen survival in all tested phases of the vector-specific spirochete life cycle, including tick-to-host transmission. Unlike wild type or la7-complemented isolates, isogenic La7-deficient spirochetes are severely impaired in their ability to persist within feeding ticks during acquisition from mice, in quiescent ticks during larval-nymphal inter-molt, and in subsequent pathogen transmission from ticks to naïve hosts. Analysis of gene expression during the major stages of the tick-rodent infection cycle showed increased expression of la7 in the vector and a swift downregulation in the mammalian hosts. Co-immunoprecipitation studies coupled with liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis further suggested that La7, a highly conserved and abundant inner membrane protein, is involved in protein-protein interaction with a discrete set of borrelial ligands although biological significance of such interactions remains unclear. Further characterization of vector-induced membrane antigens like La7 and its interacting partners will likely aid in our understanding of the molecular details of B. burgdorferi persistence and transmission through a complex enzootic cycle.

Published by Elsevier Masson SAS.


Borrelia burgdorferi; La7 protein; Lyme disease; Tick-borne; Transmission

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
[Available on 2014/9/1]
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