In a microarray analysis of the RpoS regulon in mammalian host-adapted Borrelia burgdorferi, bb0728 (cdr) was found to be dually transcribed by the sigma factors σ(70) and RpoS. The cdr gene encodes a coenzyme A disulphide reductase (CoADR) that reduces CoA-disulphides to CoA in an NADH-dependent manner. Based on the abundance of CoA in B. burgdorferi and the biochemistry of the enzyme, CoADR has been proposed to play a role in the spirochaete's response to reactive oxygen species. To better understand the physiologic function(s) of BbCoADR, we generated a B. burgdorferi mutant in which the cdr gene was disrupted. RT-PCR and 5'-RACE analysis revealed that cdr and bb0729 are co-transcribed from a single transcriptional start site upstream of the bb0729 coding sequence; a shuttle vector containing the bb0729-cdr operon and upstream promoter element was used to complement the cdr mutant. Although the mutant was no more sensitive to hydrogen peroxide than its parent, it did exhibit increased sensitivity to high concentrations of t-butyl-hydroperoxide, an oxidizing compound that damages spirochetal membranes. Characterization of the mutant during standard (15% oxygen, 6% CO(2)) and anaerobic (< 1% O(2) , 9-13% CO(2)) cultivation at 37°C revealed a growth defect under both conditions that was particularly striking during anaerobiosis. The mutant was avirulent by needle inoculation and showed decreased survival in feeding nymphs, but displayed no survival defect in unfed flat nymphs. Based on these results, we propose that BbCoADR is necessary to maintain optimal redox ratios for CoA/CoA-disulphide and NAD(+) /NADH during periods of rapid replication throughout the enzootic cycle, to support thiol-disulphide homeostasis, and to indirectly protect the spirochaete against peroxide-mediated membrane damage; one or more of these functions are essential for infection of the mammalian host by B. burgdorferi.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.