Borrelia burgdorferi survives in nature through a complex tick-mammalian life cycle. During its transit between ticks and mammalian hosts, B. burgdorferi must dramatically alter its outer surface profile in order to interact with and adapt to these two diverse niches. It has been established that the regulator BosR (BB0647) in B. burgdorferi plays important roles in modulating borrelial host adaptation. However, to date, how bosR expression itself is controlled in B. burgdorferi remains largely unknown. Previously, it has been shown that DNA sequences upstream of BosR harbor multiple sites for the binding of recombinant BosR, suggesting that BosR may influence its own expression in B. burgdorferi. However, direct experimental evidence supporting this putative autoregulation of BosR has been lacking. Here, we investigated the expression of bosR throughout the tick-mammal life cycle of B. burgdorferi via quantitative reverse transcription (RT)-PCR analyses. Our data indicated that bosR is expressed not only during mouse infection, but also during the tick acquisition, intermolt, and transmission phases. Further investigation revealed that bosR expression in B. burgdorferi is influenced by environmental stimuli, such as temperature shift and pH change. By employing luciferase reporter assays, we also identified two promoters potentially driving bosR transcription. Our study offers strong support for the long-postulated function of BosR as an autoregulator in B. burgdorferi.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases