The Intergenic Small Non-Coding RNA ittA is Required for Optimal Infectivity and Tissue Tropism in Borrelia burgdorferi Institutional Repository Document uri icon


  • ABSTRACTPost-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.AUTHOR SUMMARYLyme disease is a tick-borne infection mediated by the spirochetal bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, that is responsible for greater than 300,000 infections in the United States per year. As such, additional knowledge regarding how this pathogen modulates its regulatory armamentarium is needed to understand how B. burgdorferi establishes and maintains infection. The identification and characterization of small, non-coding RNA molecules in living systems, designated as sRNAs, has recalibrated how we view post-transcriptional regulation. Recently, over 1,000 sRNAs were identified in B. burgdorferi. Despite the identification of these sRNAs, we do not understand how they affect infectivity or B. burgdorferi pathogenesis related outcomes. Here, we characterize the ittA B. burgdorferi sRNA and show that it is essential for optimal infection using murine experimental infection as our readout. We also track the effect of this sRNA on the transcriptional and proteomic profile as the first step in providing mechanistic insight into how this important sRNA mediates its regulatory effect.

altmetric score

  • 1.6

author list (cited authors)

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

citation count

  • 1

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

Book Title

  • bioRxiv

publication date

  • February 2020