Detection of Bioluminescent Borrelia burgdorferi from In Vitro Cultivation and During Murine Infection. Chapter uri icon


  • Borrelia burgdorferi, etiologic agent of Lyme disease, is the leading tick-borne disease in the United States with approximately 300,000 cases diagnosed annually. Disease occurs in stages beginning localized infection at the site of a tick bite and progresses to disseminated infection when antibiotic treatment is not administered in a timely manner. A multi-systemic infection develops following dissemination to numerous immunoprotective tissues, such as the heart, bladder, and joints, resulting in late Lyme disease. B. burgdorferi undergoes dynamic genetic regulation throughout mammalian infection and defining the exact role of virulence genes at distinct stages of disease is challenging. The murine model allows for the characterization of the pathogenic function of genes in B. burgdorferi, but traditional end point studies limit the ability to gather data throughout an infection study and greatly increase the required number of mice. Molecular genetic techniques to evaluate and quantitate B. burgdorferi infection are laborious and costly. To partly circumvent these issues, a codon optimized firefly luciferase, under the control of a constitutive borrelial promoter, was introduced into B. burgdorferi enabling the characterization of mutant or modified strains under in vitro growth conditions and throughout murine infection. The detection of bioluminescent B. burgdorferi is highly sensitive and allows for the repeated real-time quantitative evaluation of borrelial load during murine infection. Furthermore, bioluminescence has also been utilized to evaluate alteration in tissue localization and tissue-specific gene expression of B. burgdorferi. In this chapter, we describe the generation of bioluminescent borrelial strains along with methods for in vitro, in vivo, and ex vivo B. burgdorferi studies.

altmetric score

  • 1.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Hyde, J. A., & Skare, J. T.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Hyde, Jenny A||Skare, Jon T

Book Title


publication date

  • January 2018