HtrA of Borrelia burgdorferi Leads to Decreased Swarm Motility and Decreased Production of Pyruvate

mBio. 2018 Jul 10;9(4):e01136-18. doi: 10.1128/mBio.01136-18.


Borrelia burgdorferi HtrA (HtrABb) is a serine protease that targets damaged or improperly folded proteins. In our previous studies, HtrABb specifically degraded basic membrane protein BmpD, chemotaxis phosphatase CheX, and outer membrane protein P66. In addition, HtrABb degrades virulence factor BB0323 and components of the extracellular matrix fibronectin and aggrecan. A proteomics-based analysis (two-dimensional difference gel electrophoresis [2-D DIGE], liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry [LC-MS]) of an HtrABb-overexpressing strain of B. burgdorferi (A3HtrAOE) revealed that protein levels of P66 were reduced in comparison to wild-type B. burgdorferi, confirming its status as an HtrABb substrate. Hbb, a P66-DNA-binding transcription factor, was specifically degraded by HtrABb, providing supportive evidence for a role for both in the regulation of P66. A3HtrAOE exhibited reduced motility in swarm assays, a possible link between overabundance of HtrABb and its enzymatic specificity for P66. However, the ΔP66 strain did not have reduced motility in the swarm assays, negating a role for this protein. The proteomics analyses also identified three enzymes of the glycolytic pathway, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GPDH), and glycerol kinase (GK), and one enzyme involved in carbohydrate metabolism, diphosphate-fructose-6-phosphate 1-phosphotransferase, which were reduced in A3HtrAOE. Consistent with its reduced protein levels of these glycolytic enzymes, A3HtrAOE was also deficient in production of pyruvate. We propose a model for a role for HtrABb in contributing to a decrease in metabolic activity of B. burgdorferiIMPORTANCE Being a vector-borne bacterium, B. burgdorferi must remodel its protein content as it transfers from tick to mammal. Proteolysis is a mechanism whereby remodeling can be accomplished. HtrABb degrades a number of proteins whose disappearance may help in preparing this organism for a stage of low metabolic activity.

Keywords: Borrelia; HtrA; P66; glycolytic enzymes; swarm motility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Borrelia burgdorferi / enzymology*
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / genetics
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / physiology*
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional
  • Gene Expression
  • Locomotion*
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Proteome / analysis
  • Pyruvic Acid / metabolism*
  • Serine Proteases / genetics
  • Serine Proteases / metabolism*


  • Proteome
  • Pyruvic Acid
  • Serine Proteases