The intergenic small non-coding RNA ittA is required for optimal infectivity and tissue tropism in Borrelia burgdorferi. Academic Article uri icon


  • Post-transcriptional regulation via small regulatory RNAs (sRNAs) has been implicated in diverse regulatory processes in bacteria, including virulence. One class of sRNAs, termed trans-acting sRNAs, can affect the stability and/or the translational efficiency of regulated transcripts. In this study, we utilized a collaborative approach that employed data from infection with the Borrelia burgdorferi Tn library, coupled with Tn-seq, together with borrelial sRNA and total RNA transcriptomes, to identify an intergenic trans-acting sRNA, which we designate here as ittA for infectivity-associated and tissue-tropic sRNA locus A. The genetic inactivation of ittA resulted in a significant attenuation in infectivity, with decreased spirochetal load in ear, heart, skin and joint tissues. In addition, the ittA mutant did not disseminate to peripheral skin sites or heart tissue, suggesting a role for ittA in regulating a tissue-tropic response. RNA-Seq analysis determined that 19 transcripts were differentially expressed in the ittA mutant relative to its genetic parent, including vraA, bba66, ospD and oms28 (bba74). Subsequent proteomic analyses also showed a significant decrease of OspD and Oms28 (BBA74) proteins. To our knowledge this is the first documented intergenic sRNA that alters the infectivity potential of B. burgdorferi.

published proceedings

  • PLoS Pathog

altmetric score

  • 7.85

author list (cited authors)

  • Medina-Prez, D. N., Wager, B., Troy, E., Gao, L., Norris, S. J., Lin, T., ... Skare, J. T.

citation count

  • 8

complete list of authors

  • Medina-PĂ©rez, Diana N||Wager, Beau||Troy, Erin||Gao, Lihui||Norris, Steven J||Lin, Tao||Hu, Linden||Hyde, Jenny A||Lybecker, Meghan||Skare, Jon T

editor list (cited editors)

  • Tsolis, R. M.

publication date

  • May 2020