Curious Motions of Syphilis and Lyme Disease Bacteria

The bacteria that cause syphilis and Lyme Disease have something extraordinary in common: they manage to propel themselves through their environment in spite of the fact their tails are located inside their bodies.

The remarkable engineering of these bacteria are probably a major reason spirochetes have been such successful pathogens in humans and other animals. Syphilis and Lyme Disease are better at penetrating our bodies than almost any other organisms. Spirochetes cross barriers that are impenetrable to almost anything else, including basement membranes and the linings of organs like intestines called endothelium that function to keep the kajillions of bacteria in your gut out of the rest of your body. In humans, syphilis and Lyme Disease bacteria easily penetrate the normally sacrosanct blood-brain barrier to infect the central nervous system. Syphilis can invade the placenta and infect an unborn child.

Read the whole blog entry here.