The Lynae disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, is an extracellular microbe that causes persistent infection despite the development of strong immune responses against the bacterium. B. burgdorferi expresses several ligand-binding lipoproteins, including the decorin-binding proteins (Dbps) A and B, which may mediate attachment to decorin, a major component of the host extracellular matrix during murine infection. We show that B. burgdorferi was better protected in the joints and skin, two tissues with a higher decorin expression, than in the urinary bladder and heart, two tissues with a lower decorin expression, during chronic infection of wild-type mice. Targeted disruption of decorin alone completely abolished the protective niche in chronically infected decorin-deficient mice but did not affect the spirochete burden during early infection. The nature of protection appeared to be specific because the spirochetes with higher outer surface protein C expression were not protected while the protective niche seemed to favor the spirochetes with a higher dbpA expression during chronic infection. These data suggest that spirochetal DbpA may interact with host decorin during infection and such interactions could be a mechanism that B. burgdorferi uses to evade humoral immunity and establish chronic infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine