The stringent response-regulated sRNA transcriptome of Borrelia burgdorferi

Dan Drecktrah, Laura S. Hall, Philipp Rescheneder, Meghan Lybecker, D. Scott Samuels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia (Borreliella) burgdorferi must tolerate nutrient stress to persist in the tick phase of its enzootic life cycle. We previously found that the stringent response mediated by Rel Bbu globally regulates gene expression to facilitate persistence in the tick vector. Here, we show that Rel Bbu regulates the expression of a swath of small RNAs (sRNA), affecting 36% of previously identified sRNAs in B. burgdorferi. This is the first sRNA regulatory mechanism identified in any spirochete. Threefold more sRNAs were Rel Bbu -upregulated than downregulated during nutrient stress and included antisense, intergenic and 5' untranslated region sRNAs. Rel Bbu -regulated sRNAs associated with genes known to be important for host infection (bosR and dhhp) as well as persistence in the tick (glpF and hk1) were identified, suggesting potential mechanisms for post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number231
JournalFrontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology
Issue numberJUL
StatePublished - Jul 5 2018


  • Borrelia burgdorferi
  • Gene regulation
  • Guanosine tetraphosphate and pentaphosphate
  • Lyme disease
  • RNA sequencing
  • Small RNA
  • Spirochetes
  • Stringent response


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