pncA and bptA are not sufficient to complement Ixodes scapularis colonization and persistence by Borrelia burgdorferi in a linear plasmid lp25-deficient background. Academic Article uri icon


  • The complex segmented genome of Borrelia burgdorferi is comprised of a linear chromosome along with numerous linear and circular plasmids essential for tick and/or mammalian infectivity. The pathogenic necessity for specific borrelial plasmids has been identified; most notably, infections of the tick vector and mammalian host both require linear plasmid 25 (lp25). Genes carried on lp25, specifically bptA and pncA, are postulated to play a role for B. burgdorferi to infect and persist in Ixodes ticks. In this study, we complemented an lp25-deficient borrelial strain with pncA alone or pncA accompanied by bptA to evaluate the ability of the complemented strains to restore larval colonization and persistence through transstadial transmission relative to that of wild-type B. burgdorferi. The acquisition of the complemented strains by tick larvae from infected mice and/or the survival of these strains was significantly decreased when assayed by cultivation and quantitative PCR (qPCR). Only 10% of the pncA-complemented strain organisms were found by culture to survive 17 days following larval feeding, while 45% of the pncA- and bptA-complemented strain organisms survived, with similar results by PCR. However, neither of the complemented B. burgdorferi strains was capable of persisting through the molt to the nymphal stage as analyzed by culture. qPCR analyses of unfed nymphs detected B. burgdorferi genomes in several nymphs at low copy numbers, likely indicating the presence of DNA from dead or dying cells. Overall, the data indicate that pncA and bptA cannot independently support infection, suggesting that lp25 carries additional gene(s) or regulatory elements critical for B. burgdorferi survival and pathogenesis in the Ixodes vector.

published proceedings

  • Infect Immun

altmetric score

  • 0.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Gilmore, R. D., Brandt, K. S., & Hyde, J. A.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Gilmore, Robert D||Brandt, Kevin S||Hyde, Jenny A

editor list (cited editors)

  • Bäumler, A. J.

publication date

  • December 2014