The Lyme disease spirochete's BpuR DNA/RNA-binding protein is differentially expressed during the mammal–tick infectious cycle, which affects translation of the SodA superoxide dismutase

Brandon L. Jutras, Christina R. Savage, William K. Arnold, Kathryn G. Lethbridge, Dustin W. Carroll, Kit Tilly, Aaron Bestor, Haining Zhu, Janakiram Seshu, Wolfram R. Zückert, Philip E. Stewart, Patricia A. Rosa, Catherine A. Brissette, Brian Stevenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


When the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, transfers from a feeding tick into a human or other vertebrate host, the bacterium produces vertebrate-specific proteins and represses factors needed for arthropod colonization. Previous studies determined that the B. burgdorferi BpuR protein binds to its own mRNA and autoregulates its translation, and also serves as co-repressor of erp transcription. Here, we demonstrate that B. burgdorferi controls transcription of bpuR, expressing high levels of bpuR during tick colonization but significantly less during mammalian infection. The master regulator of chromosomal replication, DnaA, was found to bind specifically to a DNA sequence that overlaps the bpuR promoter. Cultured B. burgdorferi that were genetically manipulated to produce elevated levels of BpuR exhibited altered levels of several proteins, although BpuR did not impact mRNA levels. Among these was the SodA superoxide dismutase, which is essential for mammalian infection. BpuR bound to sodA mRNA in live B. burgdorferi, and a specific BpuR-binding site was mapped 5′ of the sodA open reading frame. Recognition of posttranscriptional regulation of protein levels by BpuR adds another layer to our understanding of the B. burgdorferi regulome, and provides further evidence that bacterial protein levels do not always correlate directly with mRNA levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)973-991
Number of pages19
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Paula Schlax for funding assistance; Ashutosh Verma, Walter Finch, Amy Bowman, Alicia Chenail, Alyssa Antonicello and Timothy Saylor for experimental assistance; Jonathan Livny and Jessica Alexander for their assistance with RNA-Seq library construction and sequencing; Michael Fried for assistance in design and interpretation of electrophoretic mobility shift assays; Jing Chen and the University of Kentucky Proteomics Core Facility for proteomic identification; Jon Blevins for providing plasmid pJSB268; and Timothy Casselli, Timothy Saylor and Paula Schlax for helpful comments on the manuscript. These studies were funded by grants from the National Institutes of Heath: R21AI120602 (to B. Stevenson), R21AI139956 (to B. Stevenson, C.A. Brissette, W.R. Zückert, and P. Schlax), R03AI113648 (to B. Stevenson, J. Seshu, and J. Livny) and P20GM113123 (to C.A. Brissette); and by the Division of Intramural Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health (to P.E. Stewart, K. Tilly, A. Bestor, and P.A Rosa). The Orbitrap mass spectrometer was acquired by High-End Instrumentation Grant S10RR029127 (to H. Zhu). The University of Kentucky Flow Cytometry & Immune Function core facility is supported in part by the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Markey Cancer Center and an NCI Center Core Support Grant (P30 CA177558) to the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Authors. Molecular Microbiology Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'The Lyme disease spirochete's BpuR DNA/RNA-binding protein is differentially expressed during the mammal–tick infectious cycle, which affects translation of the SodA superoxide dismutase'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this