Defining plasmids required by Borrelia burgdorferi for colonization of tick vector Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae).

Maintenance in nature of Borrelia burgdorferi, the pathogenic bacterium that causes Lyme disease, requires transmission through an infectious cycle that includes a tick vector and a mammalian host. The genetic requirements for persistence in these disparate environments have not been well defined. B. burgdorferi has a complex genome composed of a chromosome and >20 plasmids. Previous work has demonstrated that B. burgdorferi requires two plasmids, lp25 and lp28-1, in the mammalian host. To investigate the requirement for these same two plasmids during tick infection, we experimentally infected larval ticks with B. burgdorferi lacking either lp25 or lp28-1 and then assessed the spirochete load in ticks at different points of the infection. Whereas plasmid lp28-1 was dispensable in ticks, plasmid lp25 was essential for tick infection. Furthermore, we investigated the requirement in ticks for the lp25 gene bbe22, which encodes a nicotinamidase that is necessary and sufficient for mammalian infection by B. burgdorferi clones lacking lp25. This gene was also sufficient in ticks to restore survival of spirochetes lacking lp25. This is the first study to investigate the requirement for specific plasmids by B. burgdorferi within the tick vector, and it begins to establish the genomic components required for persistence of this pathogen throughout its natural infectious cycle.
AuthorsDorothee Grimm, Kit Tilly, Dawn M Bueschel, Mark A Fisher, Paul F Policastro, Frank C Gherardini, Tom G Schwan, Patricia A Rosa
JournalJournal of medical entomology (J Med Entomol) Vol. 42 Issue 4 Pg. 676-84 (Jul 2005) ISSN: 0022-2585 [Print] United States
PMID16119559 (Publication Type: Journal Article)
  • Animals
  • Arachnid Vectors (microbiology)
  • Borrelia burgdorferi (genetics, growth & development)
  • Ixodes (microbiology)
  • Plasmids (genetics)

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