This project has focused on investigations regarding the invasiveness of both Borrelia burgdorferi and of Borrelia of relapsing fever. There is an intimate and also required association of Borrelia with the mammalian plasminogen activation system (PAS). The interaction of Borrelia with the PAS provides the spirochetes with borrowed proteolytic activity which in turn enhance invasiveness. The interaction goes even further to include the utilization of the cellular aspects of the PAS to also promote invasiveness and a reduction in inflammation. Studies that demonstrate that Borrelia interacts with each of the PAS components were completed, and documentation was provided for changes in gene expression when Borrelia are stimulated by blood. This project, will consider changes that occur in Borrelia gene expression as a result of contact with blood that result in invasion. In the previous period of this project, we obtained compelling evidence that the biogenesis of critical proteins such as OspC and DbpA were regulated during blood induction by an upregulated Lon-1 protease. The first Specific Aim will study a mechanism whereby blood-induced gene products contribute to invasion by B. burgdorferi. Through microarray experiments, blood markedly induced the upregulation of ospC, dbpA, p35, and lon-1 (among 154 other genes). Lon-1 is an ATP-dependent protease that degrades damaged, senescent, or misfolded proteins. In a lon-1 Borrelia knockout, the levels of OspC, DbpA, and P35 protein were reduced following stimulation with blood even though transcription of these proteins remained elevated. A lon-1 knockout showed an impaired infectivity phenotype and was particularly deficient in invading and colonizing the skin. The possibility that the Lon-1 of Borrelia may have both proteolytic and chaperone functions in the biogenesis of proteins required for invasion will be tested by biochemical (using soluble recombinant wild type and mutant Lon-1) and genetic approaches (using lon-1 knockout and lon-1 complemented strains of infectious B. burgdorferi). Mouse experiments are planned to test the hypothesis that Lon-1 is important in the production of proteins that could be considered to be virulence factors. Since OspC has been shown to be essential for infection of mammals, the hypothesis is that interaction of Lon-1 with OspC (and others to be identified in Specific Aim II) leads to changes in invasion.
In Specific Aim II, additional Borrelia responses to stimulation with blood and that lead to invasion will be identified. In this part of the project, the genes associated with the wild type lon-1 and lon-1 mutant (as well as complemented mutants) under stimulation with blood will be identified. Identification of the blood induced regulon will be achieved by proteomic and genomic approaches.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Host Interactions with Bacterial Pathogens Study Section (HIBP)
Program Officer
Mao, Su-Yau
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
State University New York Stony Brook
Schools of Medicine
Stony Brook
United States
Zip Code
LaRocca, Timothy J; Pathak, Priyadarshini; Chiantia, Salvatore et al. (2013) Proving lipid rafts exist: membrane domains in the prokaryote Borrelia burgdorferi have the same properties as eukaryotic lipid rafts. PLoS Pathog 9:e1003353
Crowley, Jameson T; Toledo, Alvaro M; LaRocca, Timothy J et al. (2013) Lipid exchange between Borrelia burgdorferi and host cells. PLoS Pathog 9:e1003109
Toledo, A; Coleman, J L; Kuhlow, C J et al. (2012) The enolase of Borrelia burgdorferi is a plasminogen receptor released in outer membrane vesicles. Infect Immun 80:359-68
Toledo, A; Anda, P; Escudero, R et al. (2010) Phylogenetic analysis of a virulent Borrelia species isolated from patients with relapsing fever. J Clin Microbiol 48:2484-9
LaRocca, Timothy J; Crowley, Jameson T; Cusack, Brian J et al. (2010) Cholesterol lipids of Borrelia burgdorferi form lipid rafts and are required for the bactericidal activity of a complement-independent antibody. Cell Host Microbe 8:331-42
Coleman, James L; Katona, Laura I; Kuhlow, Christopher et al. (2009) Evidence that two ATP-dependent (Lon) proteases in Borrelia burgdorferi serve different functions. PLoS Pathog 5:e1000676
Malkiel, Susan; Kuhlow, Christopher J; Mena, Patricio et al. (2009) The loss and gain of marginal zone and peritoneal B cells is different in response to relapsing fever and Lyme disease Borrelia. J Immunol 182:498-506
Haile, Woldeab B; Coleman, James L; Benach, Jorge L (2006) Reciprocal upregulation of urokinase plasminogen activator and its inhibitor, PAI-2, by Borrelia burgdorferi affects bacterial penetration and host-inflammatory response. Cell Microbiol 8:1349-60
Gebbia, Joseph A; Coleman, James L; Benach, Jorge L (2004) Selective induction of matrix metalloproteinases by Borrelia burgdorferi via toll-like receptor 2 in monocytes. J Infect Dis 189:113-9
Coleman, James L; Benach, Jorge L (2003) The urokinase receptor can be induced by Borrelia burgdorferi through receptors of the innate immune system. Infect Immun 71:5556-64

Showing the most recent 10 out of 23 publications