ResearchPad - borrelia-burgdorferi https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Factors affecting the microbiome of <i>Ixodes scapularis</i> and <i>Amblyomma americanum</i>]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14701 The microbial community composition of disease vectors can impact pathogen establishment and transmission as well as on vector behavior and fitness. While data on vector microbiota are accumulating quickly, determinants of the variation in disease vector microbial communities are incompletely understood. We explored the microbiome of two human-biting tick species abundant in eastern North America (Amblyomma americanum and Ixodes scapularis) to identify the relative contribution of tick species, tick life stage, tick sex, environmental context and vertical transmission to the richness, diversity, and species composition of the tick microbiome. We sampled 89 adult and nymphal Ixodes scapularis (N = 49) and Amblyomma americanum (N = 40) from two field sites and characterized the microbiome of each individual using the v3-v4 hypervariable region of the 16S rRNA gene. We identified significant variation in microbial community composition due to tick species and life stage with lesser impact of sampling site. Compared to unfed nymphs and males, the microbiome of engorged adult female I. scapularis, as well as the egg masses they produced, were low in bacterial richness and diversity and were dominated by Rickettsia, suggesting strong vertical transmission of this genus. Likewise, microbiota of A. americanum nymphs and males were more diverse than those of adult females. Among bacteria of public health importance, we detected several different Rickettsia sequence types, several of which were distinct from known species. Borrelia was relatively common in I. scapularis but did not show the same level of sequence variation as Rickettsia. Several bacterial genera were significantly over-represented in Borrelia-infected I. scapularis, suggesting a potential interaction of facilitative relationship between these taxa; no OTUs were under-represented in Borrelia-infected ticks. The systematic sampling we conducted for this study allowed us to partition the variation in tick microbial composition as a function of tick- and environmentally-related factors. Upon more complete understanding of the forces that shape the tick microbiome it will be possible to design targeted experimental studies to test the impacts of individual taxa and suites of microbes on vector-borne pathogen transmission and on vector biology.

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<![CDATA[The intergenic small non-coding RNA <i>ittA</i> is required for optimal infectivity and tissue tropism in <i>Borrelia burgdorferi</i>]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14635 Lyme disease is a tick-borne infection mediated by the spirochetal bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, that is responsible for greater than 300,000 infections in the United States per year. As such, additional knowledge regarding how this pathogen modulates its regulatory armamentarium is needed to understand how B. burgdorferi establishes and maintains infection. The identification and characterization of small, non-coding RNA molecules in living systems, designated as sRNAs, has recalibrated how we view post-transcriptional regulation. Recently, over 1,000 sRNAs were identified in B. burgdorferi. Despite the identification of these sRNAs, we do not understand how they affect infectivity or B. burgdorferi pathogenesis related outcomes. Here, we characterize the ittA B. burgdorferi sRNA and show that it is essential for optimal infection using murine experimental infection as our readout. We also track the effect of this sRNA on the transcriptional and proteomic profile as the first step in providing mechanistic insight into how this important sRNA mediates its regulatory effect.

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<![CDATA[Optimization of tissue sampling for Borrelia burgdorferi in white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nff220985-8630-4822-8507-6b577103a931

Peromyscus leucopus (the white-footed mouse) is a known reservoir of the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. Sampling of white-footed mice allows for year-round B. burgdorferi surveillance as well as opportunities to establish the diversity of the different variants in a geographic region. This study explores the prevalence of B. burgdorferi infections in the tissues of white-footed mice, investigates the correlations between B. burgdorferi infected tissues, and determines the optimum field methods for surveillance of B. burgdorferi in P. leucopus. A total of 90 mice and 573 tissues (spleen, liver, ear, tongue, tail, heart, and kidney) were screened via nested PCR for B. burgdorferi infections. A large number of infections were found in the 90 mice as well as multiple infections within individual mice. Infections in a single mouse tissue (spleen, liver, ear, tongue and tail) were predictive of concurrent infection in other tissues of the same mouse at a statistically significant level. Ear tissue accounted for 68.4% of detected infections, which increased to 78.9% of the infected mice with the inclusion of tail samples. The use of ear punch or tail snip samples (used individually or in tandem) have multiple advantages over current Lyme disease ecological studies and surveillance methodologies, including lower associated costs, minimization of delays, year-round B. burgdorferi testing opportunities, as well as longitudinal monitoring of B. burgdorferi in defined geographic regions. In the absence of an effective vaccine, personal prevention measures are currently the most effective way to reduce Lyme disease transmission to humans. Thus, the identification and monitoring of environmental reservoirs to inform at-risk populations remains a priority. The sampling methods proposed in this study provide a reasonable estimate of B. burgdorferi in white-footed mice in a timely and cost-effective manner.

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<![CDATA[Detection of municipalities at-risk of Lyme disease using passive surveillance of Ixodes scapularis as an early signal: A province-specific indicator in Canada]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c75ac66d5eed0c484d086db

Lyme disease, the most commonly reported vector-borne disease in North America, is caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, which is transmitted by Ixodes scapularis in eastern Canada and Ixodes pacificus in western Canada. Recently, the northward range expansion of I. scapularis ticks, in south-eastern Canada, has resulted in a dramatic increase in the incidence of human Lyme disease. Detecting emerging areas of Lyme disease risk allows public health to target disease prevention efforts. We analysed passive tick surveillance data from Ontario and Manitoba to i) assess the relationship between the total numbers of I. scapularis submissions in passive surveillance from humans, and the number of human Lyme disease cases, and ii) develop province-specific acarological indicators of risk that can be used to generate surveillance-based risk maps. We also assessed associations between numbers of nymphal I. scapularis tick submissions only and Lyme disease case incidence. Using General Estimating Equation regression, the relationship between I. scapularis submissions (total numbers and numbers of nymphs only) in each census sub-division (CSD) and the number of reported Lyme disease cases was positively correlated and highly significant in the two provinces (P ≤ 0.001). The numbers of I. scapularis submissions over five years discriminated CSDs with ≥ 3 Lyme disease cases from those with < 3 cases with high accuracy when using total numbers of tick submission (Receiver Operating Characteristics area under the curve [AUC] = 0.89) and moderate accuracy (AUC = 0.78) when using nymphal tick submissions only. In Ontario the optimal cut-off point was a total 12 tick submissions from a CSD over five years (Sensitivity = 0.82, Specificity = 0.84), while in Manitoba the cut-off point was five ticks (Sensitivity = 0.71, Specificity = 0.79) suggesting regional variability of the risk of acquiring Lyme disease from an I. scapularis bite. The performances of the acarological indicators developed in this study for Ontario and Manitoba support the ability of passive tick surveillance to provide an early signal of the existence Lyme disease risk areas in regions where ticks and the pathogens they transmit are expanding their range.

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<![CDATA[The growing importance of lone star ticks in a Lyme disease endemic county: Passive tick surveillance in Monmouth County, NJ, 2006 – 2016]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6c75cbd5eed0c4843d01e0

As human cases of tick-borne disease continue to increase, there is a heightened imperative to collect data on human-tick encounters to inform disease prevention. Passive tick surveillance programs that encourage members of the public to submit ticks they have encountered can provide a relatively low-cost means of collecting such data. We report the results of 11 years of tick submissions (2006–2016) collected in Monmouth County, New Jersey, an Atlantic coastal county long endemic for Lyme disease. A total of 8,608 ticks acquired in 22 U.S. states were submitted, 89.7% of which were acquired in Monmouth County, from 52 of the County’s 53 municipalities. Seasonal submission rates reflected known phenology of common human-biting ticks, but annual submissions of both Amblyomma americanum and Dermacentor variabilis increased significantly over time while numbers of Ixodes scapularis remained static. By 2016, A. americanum had expanded northward in the county and now accounted for nearly half (48.1%) of submissions, far outpacing encounters with I. scapularis (28.2% of submissions). Across all tick species and stages the greatest number of ticks were removed from children (ages 0–9, 40.8%) and older adults (ages 50+, 23.8%) and these age groups were also more likely to submit partially or fully engorged ticks, suggesting increased risk of tick-borne disease transmission to these vulnerable age groups. Significantly more people (43.2%) reported acquiring ticks at their place of residence than in a park or natural area (17.9%). This pattern was more pronounced for residents over 60 years of age (72.7% acquired at home). Education that stresses frequent tick checks should target older age groups engaged in activity around the home. Our results strongly suggest that encounter rates with ticks other than I. scapularis are substantial and increasing and that their role in causing human illness should be carefully investigated.

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<![CDATA[Influences of Host Community Characteristics on Borrelia burgdorferi Infection Prevalence in Blacklegged Ticks]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da0aab0ee8fa60b7762b

Lyme disease is a major vector-borne bacterial disease in the USA. The disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, and transmitted among hosts and humans, primarily by blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis). The ~25 B. burgdorferi genotypes, based on genotypic variation of their outer surface protein C (ospC), can be phenotypically separated as strains that primarily cause human diseases—human invasive strains (HIS)—or those that rarely do. Additionally, the genotypes are non-randomly associated with host species. The goal of this study was to examine the extent to which phenotypic outcomes of B. burgdorferi could be explained by the host communities fed upon by blacklegged ticks. In 2006 and 2009, we determined the host community composition based on abundance estimates of the vertebrate hosts, and collected host-seeking nymphal ticks in 2007 and 2010 to determine the ospC genotypes within infected ticks. We regressed instances of B. burgdorferi phenotypes on site-specific characteristics of host communities by constructing Bayesian hierarchical models that properly handled missing data. The models provided quantitative support for the relevance of host composition on Lyme disease risk pertaining to B. burgdorferi prevalence (i.e. overall nymphal infection prevalence, or NIPAll) and HIS prevalence among the infected ticks (NIPHIS). In each year, NIPAll and NIPHIS was found to be associated with host relative abundances and diversity. For mice and chipmunks, the association with NIPAll was positive, but tended to be negative with NIPHIS in both years. However, the direction of association between shrew relative abundance with NIPAll or NIPHIS differed across the two years. And, diversity (H') had a negative association with NIPAll, but positive association with NIPHIS in both years. Our analyses highlight that the relationships between the relative abundances of three primary hosts and the community diversity with NIPAll, and NIPHIS, are variable in time and space, and that disease risk inference, based on the role of host community, changes when we examine risk overall or at the phenotypic level. Our discussion focuses on the observed relationships between prevalence and host community characteristics and how they substantiate the ecological understanding of phenotypic Lyme disease risk.

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<![CDATA[Genomic Characteristics of Chinese Borrelia burgdorferi Isolates]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daa7ab0ee8fa60ba7fca

In China, B. burgdorferi, B.garinii, B. afzelii and B. yangtze sp. nov have been reported; B.garinii and B. afzelii are the main pathogenic genotypes. But until now only one Chinese strain was reported with whole genome sequence. In order to further understand the genomic characteristics and diversity of Chinese Borrelia strains, 5 isolates from China were sequenced and compared with the whole genome sequences of strains in other areas. The results showed a high degree of conservation within the linear chromosome of Chinese strains, whereas plasmid showed a much larger diversity according to the majority genomic information of plasmids. The genome sequences of the five Chinese strains were compared with the corresponding reference strains, respectively, according to the genospecies. Pairwise analysis demonstrates that there are only 70 SNPs between the genomes of CS4 and B31. However, there are many more SNPs between the genomes of QX-S13 and VS116, PD91 and PBi, FP1 and PKo, R9 and Pko, respectively. Gene comparison showed some important different genes. OspA was one of the important different genes. Comparative genomic studies have found that OspA gene sequences of PD91 and R9 had great differences compared with the sequence of B31. OspA gene sequence of R9 had a 96bp deletion; OspA gene of PD91 had two deletions: 9bp and 10 bp. To conclude, we showed the genomic characteristics of four genotype Chinese B. burgdorferi strains. The genomic sequence of B. yangtze sp. nov and differences from B. valaisiana were first reported. Comparative analysis of Chinese strains with the different Borrelia species from other areas will help us to understand evolution and pathogenesis of Chinese Borrelia burgdorferi strains.

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<![CDATA[Evidence for Host-Genotype Associations of Borrelia burgdorferi Sensu Stricto]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9feab0ee8fa60b730b0

Different genotypes of the agent of Lyme disease in North America, Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto, show varying degrees of pathogenicity in humans. This variation in pathogenicity correlates with phylogeny and we have hypothesized that the different phylogenetic lineages in North America reflect adaptation to different host species. In this study, evidence for host species associations of B. burgdorferi genotypes was investigated using 41 B. burgdorferi-positive samples from five mammal species and 50 samples from host-seeking ticks collected during the course of field studies in four regions of Canada: Manitoba, northwestern Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes. The B. burgdorferi genotypes in the samples were characterized using three established molecular markers (multi-locus sequence typing [MLST], 16S-23S rrs-rrlA intergenic spacer, and outer surface protein C sequence [ospC] major groups). Correspondence analysis and generalized linear mixed effect models revealed significant associations between B. burgdorferi genotypes and host species (in particular chipmunks, and white-footed mice and deer mice), supporting the hypotheses that host adaptation contributes to the phylogenetic structure and possibly the observed variation in pathogenicity in humans.

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<![CDATA[A high-throughput genetic screen identifies previously uncharacterized Borrelia burgdorferi genes important for resistance against reactive oxygen and nitrogen species]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db53ab0ee8fa60bdce51

Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease in humans, is exposed to reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS and RNS) in both the tick vector and vertebrate reservoir hosts. B. burgdorferi contains a limited repertoire of canonical oxidative stress response genes, suggesting that novel gene functions may be important for protection of B. burgdorferi against ROS or RNS exposure. Here, we use transposon insertion sequencing (Tn-seq) to conduct an unbiased search for genes involved in resistance to nitric oxide, hydrogen peroxide, and tertiary-butyl hydroperoxide in vitro. The screens identified 66 genes whose disruption resulted in increased susceptibility to at least one of the stressors. These genes include previously characterized mediators of ROS and RNS resistance (including components of the nucleotide excision repair pathway and a subunit of a riboflavin transporter), as well as novel putative resistance candidates. DNA repair mutants were among the most sensitive to RNS in the Tn-seq screen, and survival assays with individual Tn mutants confirmed that the putative ribonuclease BB0839 is involved in resistance to nitric oxide. In contrast, mutants lacking predicted inner membrane proteins or transporters were among the most sensitive to ROS, and the contribution of three such membrane proteins (BB0017, BB0164, and BB0202) to ROS sensitivity was confirmed using individual Tn mutants and complemented strains. Further analysis showed that levels of intracellular manganese are significantly reduced in the Tn::bb0164 mutant, identifying a novel role for BB0164 in B. burgdorferi manganese homeostasis. Infection of C57BL/6 and gp91phox-/- mice with a mini-library of 39 Tn mutants showed that many of the genes identified in the in vitro screens are required for infectivity in mice. Collectively, our data provide insight into how B. burgdorferi responds to ROS and RNS and suggests that this response is relevant to the in vivo success of the organism.

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<![CDATA[Transcriptional Profiling the 150 kb Linear Megaplasmid of Borrelia turicatae Suggests a Role in Vector Colonization and Initiating Mammalian Infection]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9fbab0ee8fa60b721f1

Adaptation is key for survival as vector-borne pathogens transmit between the arthropod and vertebrate, and temperature change is an environmental signal inducing alterations in gene expression of tick-borne spirochetes. While plasmids are often associated with adaptation, complex genomes of relapsing fever spirochetes have hindered progress in understanding the mechanisms of vector colonization and transmission. We utilized recent advances in genome sequencing to generate the most complete version of the Borrelia turicatae 150 kb linear megaplasmid (lp150). Additionally, a transcriptional analysis of open reading frames (ORFs) in lp150 was conducted and identified regions that were up-regulated during in vitro cultivation at tick-like growth temperatures (22°C), relative to bacteria grown at 35°C and infected murine blood. Evaluation of the 3’ end of lp150 identified a cluster of ORFs that code for putative surface lipoproteins. With a microbe’s surface proteome serving important roles in pathogenesis, we confirmed the ORFs expression in vitro and in the tick compared to spirochetes infecting murine blood. Transcriptional evaluation of lp150 indicates the plasmid likely has essential roles in vector colonization and/or initiating mammalian infection. These results also provide a much needed transcriptional framework to delineate the molecular mechanisms utilized by relapsing fever spirochetes during their enzootic cycle.

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<![CDATA[Oral Immunization with OspC Does Not Prevent Tick-Borne Borrelia burgdorferi Infection]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9e8ab0ee8fa60b6c0cf

Oral vaccination strategies are of interest to prevent transmission of Lyme disease as they can be used to deliver vaccines to humans, pets, and to natural wildlife reservoir hosts of Borrelia burgdorferi. We developed a number of oral vaccines based in E. coli expressing recombinant OspC type K, OspB, BBK32 from B. burgdorferi, and Salp25, Salp15 from Ixodes scapularis. Of the five immunogenic candidates only OspC induced significant levels of antigen-specific IgG and IgA when administered to mice via the oral route. Antibodies to OspC did not prevent dissemination of B. burgdorferi as determined by the presence of spirochetes in ear, heart and bladder tissues four weeks after challenge. Next generation sequencing of genomic DNA from ticks identified multiple phyletic types of B. burgdorferi OspC (A, D, E, F, I, J, K, M, Q, T, X) in nymphs that engorged on vaccinated mice. PCR amplification of OspC types A and K from flat and engorged nymphal ticks, and from heart and bladder tissues collected after challenge confirmed sequencing analysis. Quantification of spirochete growth in a borreliacidal assay shows that both types of spirochetes (A and K) survived in the presence of OspC-K specific serum whereas the spirochetes were killed by OspA specific serum. We show that oral vaccination of C3H-HeN mice with OspC-K induced significant levels of antigen-specific IgG. However, these serologic antibodies did not protect mice from infection with B. burgdorferi expressing homologous or heterologous types of OspC after tick challenge.

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<![CDATA[Gray Wolf Exposure to Emerging Vector-Borne Diseases in Wisconsin with Comparison to Domestic Dogs and Humans]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db0fab0ee8fa60bcb817

World-wide concern over emerging vector-borne diseases has increased in recent years for both animal and human health. In the United Sates, concern about vector-borne diseases in canines has focused on Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and heartworm which infect domestic and wild canids. Of these diseases, Lyme and anaplasmosis are also frequently diagnosed in humans. Gray wolves (Canis lupus) recolonized Wisconsin in the 1970s, and we evaluated their temporal and geographic patterns of exposure to these four vector-borne diseases in Wisconsin as the population expanded between 1985 and 2011. A high proportion of the Wisconsin wolves were exposed to the agents that cause Lyme (65.6%) and anaplasma (47.7%), and a smaller proportion to ehrlichiosis (5.7%) and infected with heartworm (9.2%). Wolf exposure to tick borne diseases was consistently higher in older animals. Wolf exposure was markedly higher than domestic dog (Canis familiaris) exposure for all 4 disease agents during 2001–2013. We found a cluster of wolf exposure to Borrelia burgdorferi in northwestern Wisconsin, which overlaps human and domestic dog clusters for the same pathogen. In addition, wolf exposure to Lyme disease in Wisconsin has increased, corresponding with the increasing human incidence of Lyme disease in a similar time period. Despite generally high prevalence of exposure none of these diseases appear to have slowed the growth of the Wisconsin wolf population.

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<![CDATA[Whole Genome Sequence and Comparative Genomics of the Novel Lyme Borreliosis Causing Pathogen, Borrelia mayonii]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9f1ab0ee8fa60b6e9c6

Borrelia mayonii, a Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (Bbsl) genospecies, was recently identified as a cause of Lyme borreliosis (LB) among patients from the upper midwestern United States. By microscopy and PCR, spirochete/genome loads in infected patients were estimated at 105 to 106 per milliliter of blood. Here, we present the full chromosome and plasmid sequences of two B. mayonii isolates, MN14-1420 and MN14-1539, cultured from blood of two of these patients. Whole genome sequencing and assembly was conducted using PacBio long read sequencing (Pacific Biosciences RSII instrument) followed by hierarchical genome-assembly process (HGAP). The B. mayonii genome is ~1.31 Mbp in size (26.9% average GC content) and is comprised of a linear chromosome, 8 linear and 7 circular plasmids. Consistent with its taxonomic designation as a new Bbsl genospecies, the B. mayonii linear chromosome shares only 93.83% average nucleotide identity with other genospecies. Both B. mayonii genomes contain plasmids similar to B. burgdorferi sensu stricto lp54, lp36, lp28-3, lp28-4, lp25, lp17, lp5, 5 cp32s, cp26, and cp9. The vls locus present on lp28-10 of B. mayonii MN14-1420 is remarkably long, being comprised of 24 silent vls cassettes. Genetic differences between the two B. mayonii genomes are limited and include 15 single nucleotide variations as well as 7 fewer silent vls cassettes and a lack of the lp5 plasmid in MN14-1539. Notably, 68 homologs to proteins present in B. burgdorferi sensu stricto appear to be lacking from the B. mayonii genomes. These include the complement inhibitor, CspZ (BB_H06), the fibronectin binding protein, BB_K32, as well as multiple lipoproteins and proteins of unknown function. This study shows the utility of long read sequencing for full genome assembly of Bbsl genomes, identifies putative genome regions of B. mayonii that may be linked to clinical manifestation or tissue tropism, and provides a valuable resource for pathogenicity, diagnostic and vaccine studies.

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<![CDATA[Multiple and Diverse vsp and vlp Sequences in Borrelia miyamotoi, a Hard Tick-Borne Zoonotic Pathogen]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9faab0ee8fa60b719ba

Based on chromosome sequences, the human pathogen Borrelia miyamotoi phylogenetically clusters with species that cause relapsing fever. But atypically for relapsing fever agents, B. miyamotoi is transmitted not by soft ticks but by hard ticks, which also are vectors of Lyme disease Borrelia species. To further assess the relationships of B. miyamotoi to species that cause relapsing fever, I investigated extrachromosomal sequences of a North American strain with specific attention on plasmid-borne vsp and vlp genes, which are the underpinnings of antigenic variation during relapsing fever. For a hybrid approach to achieve assemblies that spanned more than one of the paralogous vsp and vlp genes, a database of short-reads from next-generation sequencing was supplemented with long-reads obtained with real-time DNA sequencing from single polymerase molecules. This yielded three contigs of 31, 16, and 11 kb, which each contained multiple and diverse sequences that were homologous to vsp and vlp genes of the relapsing fever agent B. hermsii. Two plasmid fragments had coding sequences for plasmid partition proteins that differed from each other from paralogous proteins for the megaplasmid and a small plasmid of B. miyamotoi. One of 4 vsp genes, vsp1, was present at two loci, one of which was downstream of a candiate prokaryotic promoter. A limited RNA-seq analysis of a population growing in the blood of mice indicated that of the 4 different vsp genes vsp1 was the one that was expressed. The findings indicate that B. miyamotoi has at least four types of plasmids, two or more of which bear vsp and vlp gene sequences that are as numerous and diverse as those of relapsing fever Borrelia. The database and insights from these findings provide a foundation for further investigations of the immune responses to this pathogen and of the capability of B. miyamotoi for antigenic variation.

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<![CDATA[Comparison of MKP and BSK-H media for the cultivation and isolation of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db4fab0ee8fa60bdb962

The isolation of B. burgdorferi sensu lato requires the use of complex cultivation media. The aim of the study was to compare the usefulness of BSK-H (a commercial medium produced by HiMedia, India) and MKP medium. MKP and BSK-H media were prepared in accordance with the relevant protocols. Borrelia strains and skin culture biopsies were simultaneously inoculated into both media, incubated and checked for growth. Borrelial growth characteristics, isolation rates and characteristics of the isolated borreliae were analysed and compared. Initially, numbers of spirochaetes were higher in BSK-H than in MKP; however, in comparison with MKP, the strains subcultured in BSK-H medium were more frequently irregular, thin and non-motile, and rapidly died. In addition, the borrelial isolation rate from erythema migrans skin samples was higher in MKP than in BSK-H medium (108/171, 63.2% versus 70/171, 40.9%; p<0.0001). The far most frequently isolated species was Borrelia afzelii (92.9% and 97.2% strains isolated from BSK-H and MKP, respectively). Comparison of strains cultured from individual patients in both media showed differences in plasmid contents in 9/46 (19.6%) strain pairs, and protein profiles differed in 30/43 (69.8%) strain pairs, most often in the expression of OspC (in 27/28 patients OspC was expressed only in strains growing in MKP). BSK-H medium supports the growth of borrelial strains but MKP is superior with regard to the isolation rate, morphology and motility of strains. BSK-H medium supports fast initial growth of borreliae but this is followed by rapid deformation and death of the spirochaetes.

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<![CDATA[The Accuracy of Diagnostic Tests for Lyme Disease in Humans, A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of North American Research]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da49ab0ee8fa60b8c5f9

There has been an increasing incidence of Lyme disease (LD) in Canada and the United States corresponding to the expanding range of the Ixodes tick vector and Lyme disease agent (Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto). There are many diagnostic tests for LD available in North America, all of which have some performance issues, and physicians are concerned about the appropriate use and interpretation of these tests. The objective of this systematic review is to summarize the North American evidence on the accuracy of diagnostic tests and test regimes at various stages of LD. Included in the review are 48 studies on diagnostic tests used in North America published since 1995. Thirteen studies examined a two-tier serological test protocol vs. clinical diagnosis, 24 studies examined single assays vs. clinical diagnosis, 9 studies examined single immunoblot vs. clinical diagnosis, 7 studies compared culture or PCR direct detection methods vs. clinical diagnosis, 22 studies compared two or more tests with each other and 8 studies compared a two-tiered serological test protocol to another test. Recent studies examining the sensitivity and specificity of various test protocols noted that the Immunetics® C6 B. burgdorferi ELISA™ and the two tier approach have superior specificity compared to proposed replacements, and the CDC recommended western blot algorithm has equivalent or superior specificity over other proposed test algorithms. There is a dramatic increase in test sensitivity with progression of B. burgdorferi infection from early to late LD. Direct detection methods, culture and PCR of tissue or blood samples were not as sensitive or timely compared to serological testing. It was also noted that there are a large number of both commercial (n = 42) and in-house developed tests used by private laboratories which have not been evaluated in the primary literature.

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<![CDATA[In Vivo Imaging Demonstrates That Borrelia burgdorferi ospC Is Uniquely Expressed Temporally and Spatially throughout Experimental Infection]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da3fab0ee8fa60b89399

Borrelia burgdorferi is a spirochetal bacterium transmitted by the Ixodes tick that causes Lyme disease in humans due to its ability to evade the host immune response and disseminate to multiple immunoprotective tissues. The pathogen undergoes dynamic genetic alterations important for adaptation from the tick vector to the mammalian host, but little is known regarding the changes at the transcriptional level within the distal tissues they colonize. In this study, B. burgdorferi infection and gene expression of the essential virulence determinant ospC was quantitatively monitored in a spatial and temporal manner utilizing reporter bioluminescent borrelial strains with in vivo and ex vivo imaging. Although expressed from a shuttle vector, the PospC-luc construct exhibited a similar expression pattern relative to native ospC. Bacterial burden in skin, inguinal lymph node, heart, bladder and tibiotarsal joint varied between tissues and fluctuated over the course of infection possibly in response to unique cues of each microenvironment. Expression of ospC, when normalized for changes in bacterial load, presented unique profiles in murine tissues at different time points. The inguinal lymph node was infected with a significant B. burgdorferi burden, but showed minimal ospC expression. B. burgdorferi infected skin and heart induced expression of ospC early during infection while the bladder and tibiotarsal joint continued to display PospC driven luminescence throughout the 21 day time course. Localized skin borrelial burden increased dramatically in the first 96 hours following inoculation, which was not paralleled with an increase in ospC expression, despite the requirement of ospC for dermal colonization. Quantitation of bioluminescence representing ospC expression in individual tissues was validated by qRT-PCR of the native ospC transcript. Taken together, the temporal regulation of ospC expression in distal tissues suggests a role for this virulence determinant beyond early infection.

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<![CDATA[Co-infection of Ticks: The Rule Rather Than the Exception]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da43ab0ee8fa60b8aa99

Introduction

Ticks are the most common arthropod vectors of both human and animal diseases in Europe, and the Ixodes ricinus tick species is able to transmit a large number of bacteria, viruses and parasites. Ticks may also be co-infected with several pathogens, with a subsequent high likelihood of co-transmission to humans or animals. However few data exist regarding co-infection prevalences, and these studies only focus on certain well-known pathogens. In addition to pathogens, ticks also carry symbionts that may play important roles in tick biology, and could interfere with pathogen maintenance and transmission. In this study we evaluated the prevalence of 38 pathogens and four symbionts and their co-infection levels as well as possible interactions between pathogens, or between pathogens and symbionts.

Methodology/principal findings

A total of 267 Ixodes ricinus female specimens were collected in the French Ardennes and analyzed by high-throughput real-time PCR for the presence of 37 pathogens (bacteria and parasites), by rRT-PCR to detect the presence of Tick-Borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) and by nested PCR to detect four symbionts. Possible multipartite interactions between pathogens, or between pathogens and symbionts were statistically evaluated. Among the infected ticks, 45% were co-infected, and carried up to five different pathogens. When adding symbiont prevalences, all ticks were infected by at least one microorganism, and up to eight microorganisms were identified in the same tick. When considering possible interactions between pathogens, the results suggested a strong association between Borrelia garinii and B. afzelii, whereas there were no significant interactions between symbionts and pathogens.

Conclusion/significance

Our study reveals high pathogen co-infection rates in ticks, raising questions about possible co-transmission of these agents to humans or animals, and their consequences to human and animal health. We also demonstrated high prevalence rates of symbionts co-existing with pathogens, opening new avenues of enquiry regarding their effects on pathogen transmission and vector competence.

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<![CDATA[Expression of the Tick-Associated Vtp Protein of Borrelia hermsii in a Murine Model of Relapsing Fever]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daa9ab0ee8fa60ba8844

Borrelia hermsii, a spirochete and cause of relapsing fever, is notable for its immune evasion by multiphasic antigenic variation within its vertebrate host. This is based on a diverse repertoire of surface antigen genes, only one of which is expressed at a time. Another major surface protein, the Variable Tick Protein (Vtp), is expressed in the tick vector and is invariable at its genetic locus. Given the limited immune systems of ticks, the finding of considerable diversity among the Vtp proteins of different strains of B. hermsii was unexpected. We investigated one explanation for this diversity of Vtp proteins, namely expression of the protein in mammals and a consequent elicitation of a specific immune response. Mice were infected with B. hermsii of either the HS1 or CC1 strain, which have antigenically distinctive Vtp proteins but otherwise have similar repertoires of the variable surface antigens. Subsequently collected sera were examined for antibody reactivities against Vtp and other antigens using Western blot analysis, dot blot, and protein microarray. Week-6 sera of infected mice contained antibodies that were largely specific for the Vtp of the infecting strain and were not attributable to antibody cross-reactivities. The antibody responses of the mice infected with different strains were otherwise similar. Further evidence of in vivo expression of the vtp gene was from enumeration of cDNA sequence reads that mapped to a set of selected B. hermsii genes. This measure of transcription of the infecting strain’s vtp gene was ~10% of that for the abundantly-expressed, serotype-defining variable antigen gene but similar to that of genes known for in vivo expression. The findings of Vtp expression in a vertebrate host and elicitation of a specific anti-Vtp antibody response support the view that balancing selection by host adaptive immunity accounts in part for the observed diversity of Vtp proteins.

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<![CDATA[The Structure of Treponema pallidum Tp0751 (Pallilysin) Reveals a Non-canonical Lipocalin Fold That Mediates Adhesion to Extracellular Matrix Components and Interactions with Host Cells]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da93ab0ee8fa60ba0ce7

Syphilis is a chronic disease caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum subsp. pallidum. Treponema pallidum disseminates widely throughout the host and extravasates from the vasculature, a process that is at least partially dependent upon the ability of T. pallidum to interact with host extracellular matrix (ECM) components. Defining the molecular basis for the interaction between T. pallidum and the host is complicated by the intractability of T. pallidum to in vitro culturing and genetic manipulation. Correspondingly, few T. pallidum proteins have been identified that interact directly with host components. Of these, Tp0751 (also known as pallilysin) displays a propensity to interact with the ECM, although the underlying mechanism of these interactions remains unknown. Towards establishing the molecular mechanism of Tp0751-host ECM attachment, we first determined the crystal structure of Tp0751 to a resolution of 2.15 Å using selenomethionine phasing. Structural analysis revealed an eight-stranded beta-barrel with a profile of short conserved regions consistent with a non-canonical lipocalin fold. Using a library of native and scrambled peptides representing the full Tp0751 sequence, we next identified a subset of peptides that showed statistically significant and dose-dependent interactions with the ECM components fibrinogen, fibronectin, collagen I, and collagen IV. Intriguingly, each ECM-interacting peptide mapped to the lipocalin domain. To assess the potential of these ECM-coordinating peptides to inhibit adhesion of bacteria to host cells, we engineered an adherence-deficient strain of the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi to heterologously express Tp0751. This engineered strain displayed Tp0751 on its surface and exhibited a Tp0751-dependent gain-of-function in adhering to human umbilical vein endothelial cells that was inhibited in the presence of one of the ECM-interacting peptides (p10). Overall, these data provide the first structural insight into the mechanisms of Tp0751-host interactions, which are dependent on the protein’s lipocalin fold.

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