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K-State Today

April 21, 2023

Vanessa Ante to present Division of Biology Seminar

Submitted by Division of Biology

Vanessa Ante, Texas A&M University, will present "The Borrelia burgdorferi cAMP pathway: cyaB regulates virulence" as part of the Division of Biology Seminar Series at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 25, in 232 Ackert Hall.

Borrelia burgdorferi is the causative agent of Lyme disease, the most common vector-borne illness in the United States with symptoms ranging from flu-like sickness to debilitating arthritis. B. burgdorferi exists in a complex enzootic cycle transitioning between the disparate environments of a tick vector and vertebrate host. The establishment of long-term infection in the host develops from B. burgdorferi regulation of virulence factors in response to unknown environmental cues. The focus of Ante's research is on understanding the molecular mechanisms used by B. burgdorferi to regulate pathogenesis with a particular emphasis on characterizing B. burgdorferi genetic and physiological adaptation to the host environment. Ante's research characterizing the B. burgdorferi adenylate cyclase cyaB has established it plays a role in regulating mammalian virulence factors and infectivity.

Found in both eukaryotes and prokaryotes, adenylate cyclases are the enzymes responsible for converting ATP into the important second messenger cAMP. In bacteria, signaling pathways involving cAMP control a wide range of cell responses, including pathogenesis. Ante has found that B. burgdorferi cyaB regulates mammalian virulence factors important in adhesion and dissemination, loss of cyaB results in attenuation in mice, and expression of cyaB is influenced by mammalian host factors. Taken together, Ante's findings have begun defining the cAMP pathway, a novel signal transduction cascade in B. burgdorferi and a potential mechanism for directly relaying host environmental signals into the bacteria contributing to pathogenesis. Ante's future research aims to elucidate the role of cAMP during Borrelia-host interaction to gain a better understanding of how this signaling pathway influences the establishment and progression of disease in mammals.

If you wish to speak with Ante during her visit, please contact Sherry Fleming at sdflemin@k-state.edu