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 Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute

nachricht Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>