Borrelia burgdorferi EbfC defines a newly-identified, widespread family of bacterial DNA-binding proteins

Sean P. Riley, Tomasz Bykowski, Anne E. Cooley, Logan H. Burns, Kelly Babb, Catherine A. Brissette, Amy Bowman, Matthew Rotondi, Clarke M. Miller, Edward Demoll, Kap Lim, Michael G. Fried, Brian Stevenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, encodes a novel type of DNA-binding protein named EbfC. Orthologs of EbfC are encoded by a wide range of bacterial species, so characterization of the borrelial protein has implications that span the eubacterial kingdom. The present work defines the DNA sequence required for high-affinity binding by EbfC to be the 4 bp broken palindrome GTnAC, where 'n' can be any nucleotide. Two high-affinity EbfC-binding sites are located immediately 5′ of B. burgdorferi erp transcriptional promoters, and binding of EbfC was found to alter the conformation of erp promoter DNA. Consensus EbfC-binding sites are abundantly distributed throughout the B. burgdorferi genome, occurring approximately once every 1 kb. These and other features of EbfC suggest that this small protein and its orthologs may represent a distinctive type of bacterial nucleoid-associated protein. EbfC was shown to bind DNA as a homodimer, and site-directed mutagenesis studies indicated that EbfC and its orthologs appear to bind DNA via a novel α-helical 'tweezer'-like structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1973-1983
Number of pages11
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
US National Institutes of Health (grant R01-AI044254 to B.S. and R01-GM070662 to M.F.); National Institutes of Health Training Grant in Microbial Pathogenesis T32-AI49795 (to S.R.); University of Kentucky Graduate School Dissertation Year Fellowship (to S.R.). Funding for open access charge: US National Institutes of Health (grant R01-AI044254).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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