December 20th, 2013
Public Library of Science
Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, hitchhikes in ticks for dissemination to mammalian hosts–including humans. An article in the 19 December issue of PLOS Pathogens identifies HrpA, an RNA helicase, as a crucial player in the transmission from ticks to mammals.
George Chaconas, from the University of Calgary, Canada, and a member of the university’s Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases, and colleagues had previously identified HrpA as a modulator of B. burgdorferi protein expression. For this study, Chaconas’ group joined forces with Justin Radolf and Melissa Caimano from the University of Connecticut Health Center, USA, to analyze the molecular function of the HrpA protein and further explore its role in the bacterium’s complicated life cycle, in particular for transmission of the pathogen.