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EbfC (YbaB) is a new type of bacterial nucleoid-associated protein and a global regulator of gene expression in the Lyme disease spirochete.

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Abstract

Nearly every known species of Eubacteria encodes a homolog of the Borrelia burgdorferi EbfC DNA-binding protein. We now demonstrate that fluorescently tagged EbfC associates with B. burgdorferi nucleoids in vivo and that chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) of wild-type EbfC showed it to bind in vivo to sites throughout the genome, two hallmarks of nucleoid-associated proteins. Comparative RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) of a mutant B. burgdorferi strain that overexpresses EbfC indicated that approximately 4.5% of borrelial genes are significantly impacted by EbfC. The ebfC gene was highly expressed in rapidly growing bacteria, but ebfC mRNA was undetectable in stationary phase. Combined with previous data showing that EbfC induces bends in DNA, these results demonstrate that EbfC is a nucleoid-associated protein and lead to the hypothesis that B. burgdorferi utilizes cellular fluctuations in EbfC levels to globally control transcription of numerous genes. The ubiquity of EbfC proteins in Eubacteria suggests that these results apply to a wide range of pathogens and other bacteria.

J Bacteriol. 2012 Jul;194(13):3395-406. doi: 10.1128/JB.00252-12. Epub 2012 Apr 27. Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

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