Date of Submission


Document Type



Biology and Environmental Sciences


Eva Sapi, Ph.D.


Inflammatory Markers, Mammalian, Lyme Disease, Genetic Transcription, Breast Cancer


Borrelia burgdorferi, Biofilms, Breast Neoplasms, RNA, Messenger


Borrelia burgdorferi, Biofilms, Breast--Cancer--Research, Messenger RNA, Genetic vectors


Bacterial infection can be a causative agent for cancer. The bacterial causing agent for Lyme Disease is Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato. Lyme Disease is transmitted via a bite from the tick species Ixodes scapularis. Once in the body, B. burgdorferi can form biofilms. The formation of biofilms by B. burgdorferi helps to protect them from antibiotic treatment and the body’s immune system. This can make B. burgdorferi extremely dangerous to the host. As B. burgdorferi spreads into different tissues, the genetic expression of certain genes can be impacted. The presence of B. burgdorferi has been found within cancerous tissues and is known to impact the genetic transcription of some oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. More specifically, infection of B. burgdorferi has been found to be associated with breast cancer and has found to play a prominent role in impacting genetic transcription in breast cancer cells.

When the body becomes infected with B. burgdorferi, it activates its immune response in attempts to eliminate this pathogen. This study aimed to examine the impact of B. burgdorferi infection on the genetic expression of cytokines CCL20 and CSF2. A previous RNA-seq revealed elevated expression of these genes in MDA-MB-231 cells infected with B. burgdorferi. This study aimed to confirm these results. These genes were examined by extracting mRNA from MDA-MB-231 cells infected with B. burgdorferi for 48 hours. RT-qPCR was then used to measure the amplification of CCL20 and CSF2. The amplification values obtained were compared to both the uninfected MDA-MB-231 cells and the GAPDH housekeeping gene. The changes in genetic expression were calculated using the Ct values from the RT-qPCR. It was discovered that both CCL20 and CSF2 were upregulated in breast cancer cells infected with B. burgdorferi, confirming the results of the RNA-seq. Therefore, it can be concluded that infection of breast cancer cells with B. burgdorferi can change the expression of inflammatory markers.

Available for download on Monday, December 20, 2027

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