The infectious cycle of Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme borreliosis spirochete, necessitates persistent infection of both vertebrates and ticks, and efficient means of transmission between those two very different types of hosts. Studies from our laboratory and others have identified numerous regulatory factors that B. burgdorferi uses to control gene and protein expression levels. To date, only one sensory system has been discovered that responds to external stimuli, while the majority of sensory proteins respond to internal signals. Noting that the infectious cycle of B. burgdorferi always follows an identical route of tick-to-vertebrate-to-tick, etc., we hypothesize that the Lyme spirochete can accurately determine its position in the infectious cycle by sensing its own metabolic activity.
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