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Researchers identify protein crucial for survival of Lyme-disease bacterium

can't exist in ticks, it can't maintain itself in nature and hence can't infect animals or humans."

UT Southwestern molecular microbiology graduate student Andrew Revel, a lead author of the study, found the bptA gene by screening a number of candidate genes he thought might be affecting the survivability of Bb within its hosts. The research team had hypothesized that the elimination of the gene would somehow impact the pathogenesis of Lyme disease in mammals, but they found no evidence of that. Knockout bacteria not only survived within mice, but also produced Lyme disease in the animals.

"That's when we began to look more in the tick," Dr. Norgard said. "It wasn't until we went through the later stages of tick feeding ?allowing the ticks to feed on mice, waiting a couple of months for the tick to molt, then refeeding them ?that we began to see the effect. Our results required a much more comprehensive assessment of the total life cycle of the bacterium, as opposed to just focusing on the mammalian infection, which is what many scientists tend to do."


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Source:University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas


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