The causative agent of Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, is an obligate parasite that requires either a tick vector or a mammalian host for survival. Identification of the bacterial genes that are specifically expressed during infection of the mammalian host could provide targets for novel therapeutics and vaccines. In vivo expression technology (IVET) is a reporter-based promoter trap system that utilizes selectable markers to identify promoters of bacterial host-specific genes. Using previously characterized genes for in vivo and in vitro selection, this study utilized an IVET system that allows for selection of B. burgdorferi sequences that act as active promoters only during murine infection. This promoter trap system was able to successfully distinguish active promoter sequences both in vivo and in vitro from control sequences and a library of cloned B. burgdorferi genomic fragments. However, a bottleneck effect during the experimental mouse infection limited the utility for genome-wide promoter screening. Overall, IVET was demonstrated as a tool for the identification of in vivo-induced promoter elements of B. burgdorferi, and the observed infection bottleneck apparent using a polyclonal infection pool provides insight into the dynamics of experimental infection with B. burgdorferi.
© 2015 S. Karger AG, Basel.