Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Step Up Hunt for Bacterial Genes Tied to Lyme Disease

29.10.2012
Investigators at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) have accelerated the search for the bacterial genes that make the Lyme disease bacterium so invasive and persistent. The discovery could advance the diagnosis and treatment of this disease, which affects an estimated 30,000 Americans each year.
The researchers have developed a new technique that allowed them to test 15 times more bacterial genes than had been evaluated in the previous 30 years to ascertain their roles in infection. Findings appeared Oct. 25 in the journal The Public Library of Science ONE (PLOS ONE), an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication.

Scientists hope to use this information to unravel the mystery of how the spiral-shaped bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi causes Lyme disease. Ticks carry the bacterium and transfer it to animals and humans when the tiny spider-like creatures bite. The Lyme disease microorganism was discovered in 1981.

“We believe that this will be one of the most significant publications in Lyme disease in the next several years. This global approach will help ‘move the field forward’ and also serve as a model for other pathogens with similar properties,” said Steven Norris, Ph.D., the study’s senior author and the vice chair for research in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the UTHealth Medical School.

The bacterium can invade almost any tissue in humans or animals and trigger an infection that lasts from months to years. Its symptoms include a reddish rash that often resembles a bull’s eye and flu-like symptoms. The disease can lead to nervous system problems, joint inflammation and heart abnormalities. Most instances of Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics.

“Our long-term goals are to screen, identify and characterize the virulence determinants of the Lyme disease bacterium and thereby dissect the mechanism of pathogenesis in mammals and ticks,” said Tao Lin, D,V.M., the study’s lead author and assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the UTHealth Medical School. “With this information, we will have a clearer picture about the virulence determinants and virulence factors for this fascinating microorganism and the mechanism of pathogenesis behind this unique, invasive, persistent pathogen.”

Norris, the Robert Greer Professor of Biomedical Sciences at UTHealth, and Lin are running tests on the 1,739 genes in the bacterium to see which genes impact the microorganism’s ability to spread disease.

To do this, they mutated the bacterial genes and gauged the impact in a mouse infection model. Overall, 4,479 mutated bacteria were isolated and characterized. Whereas it took researchers about three decades to knock out less than 40 bacterial genes, Norris and Lin knocked out 790 genes in a comparatively short period of time; some genes were “hit” multiple times. A newly developed screening technique, which involves signature-tagged mutagenesis and Luminex®-based high-throughput screening technologies, can also be used to identify infection-related genes in other bacteria.

“This kind of study enables us to better understand the disease pathogenesis at the basic level,” said Charles Ericsson, M.D., head of clinical infectious diseases at the UTHealth Medical School. “In time, such understanding of virulence properties might enable us to develop vaccine candidates, better diagnostic tools and perhaps even targeted drug intervention.”

Norris and Lin are on the faculty of The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston.

Previously, Norris helped develop a method based on one of the bacterium’s proteins, called VlsE, for diagnosing Lyme disease. The test, which is now used worldwide, involves detection of VlsE-specific antibodies, which are often found in people and animals infected with Lyme disease.

Also participating in the study from UTHealth were Lihui Gao, D.V.M., Chuhua Zhang, Evelyn Odeh and Loic Coutte, Ph.D. Mary B. Jacobs and Mario Philipp, Ph.D., of the Tulane University Health Sciences Center collaborated on the study as did George Chaconas, Ph.D., of The University of Calgary in Canada. Mutated strains produced through this study are being made available to the scientific community through BEI Resources.

The study is titled “Analysis of an ordered comprehensive STM mutant library in infectious Borrelia burgdorferi: insights into the genes required for mouse infectivity.” The project described was supported by Award Number R01AI059048 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases or the National Institutes of Health.
Rob Cahill
Media Hotline: 713-500-3030

Robert Cahill | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uth.tmc.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Two Group A Streptococcus genes linked to 'flesh-eating' bacterial infections
25.09.2017 | University of Maryland

nachricht Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA'S OSIRIS-REx spacecraft slingshots past Earth

25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

MRI contrast agent locates and distinguishes aggressive from slow-growing breast cancer

25.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>