Characterization of N -acetylglucosamine utilization by the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi

Ryan Gregory Rhodes, University of Rhode Island


Borrelia burgdorferi is the causative agent of Lyme disease, the most common vector-borne disease in the United States. This spirochete is maintained exclusively within an enzootic cycle and alternates between a tick vector (Ixodes species) and vertebrate host. The organism has limited biosynthetic capabilities and must obtain many essential nutrients from its surrounding environment. One such nutrient is N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc), a component of peptidoglycan which forms the rigid layer of the microbial cell wall. B. burgdorferi can import GlcNAc as a monomer through one of several glucose transporters or as a dimer (chitobiose) through a dedicated phosphotransferase system (PTS). Despite identification of the chitobiose transporter, utilization of chitobiose and sequestered GlcNAc by B. burgdorferi is not well understood. This investigation was conducted to characterize GlcNAc utilization in B. burgdorferi by focusing on (i) the regulation of the chitobiose PTS during GlcNAc starvation, (ii) the sources of sequestered GlcNAc utilized by this spirochete in the absence of free GlcNAc and (iii) the adaptation exhibited in response to GlcNAc starvation.

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Recommended Citation

Ryan Gregory Rhodes, "Characterization of N -acetylglucosamine utilization by the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi" (2009). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3380537.