Caister Academic Press

Genetic Manipulation of Borrelia

Patricia A. Rosa and Mollie W. Jewett
from: Lyme Disease and Relapsing Fever Spirochetes: Genomics, Molecular Biology, Host Interactions and Disease Pathogenesis (Edited by: Justin D. Radolf and D. Scott Samuels). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2021) Pages: 499-524.


Open-access article
Genetic studies in Borrelia require special consideration of the highly segmented genome, complex growth requirements and evolutionary distance of spirochetes from other genetically tractable bacteria. Despite these challenges, a robust molecular genetic toolbox has been constructed to investigate the biology and pathogenic potential of these important human pathogens. In this chapter we summarize the tools and techniques that are currently available for the genetic manipulation of Borrelia, including the relapsing fever spirochetes, viewing them in the context of their utility and shortcomings. Our primary objective is to help researchers discern what is feasible and what is not practical when thinking about potential genetic experiments in Borrelia. We have summarized published methods and highlighted their critical elements, but we are not providing detailed protocols. Although many advances have been made since B. burgdorferi was first transformed over 25 years ago, some standard genetic tools remain elusive for Borrelia. We mention these limitations and why they persist, if known. We hope to encourage investigators to explore what might be possible, in addition to optimizing what currently can be achieved, through genetic manipulation of Borrelia.
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