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Open Access

No iron in Lyme

  • William Wells
Genome Biology20001:spotlight-20000609-02

Published: 09 June 2000


IronManganeseHuman CellBacterial GrowthBiosynthetic Pathway

Iron sequestration is one way that human cells limit bacterial growth. In the 2 June issue of Science, Posey and Gherardini show that the Lyme disease pathogen, Borrelia burgdorferi, has responded by eliminating most genes that encode iron-requiring proteins, and substituting manganese for iron in the few metalloproteins that are left (Science 2000, 288:1651-1653). This is possible because the bacterium is an obligate parasite that lacks the enzymes for most biosynthetic pathways. As a result the bacterium grows happily with fewer than 10 atoms of iron present per cell.


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© BioMed Central Ltd 2000