The Lyme disease agent Borrelia burgdorferi naturally persists in a cycle that primarily involves ticks and mammals. We have now identified a tick receptor (TROSPA) that is required for spirochetal colonization of Ixodes scapularis. B. burgdorferi outer surface protein A, which is abundantly expressed on spirochetes within the arthropod and essential for pathogen adherence to the vector, specifically bound to TROSPA. TROSPA mRNA levels in ticks increased following spirochete infestation and decreased in response to engorgement, events that are temporally linked to B. burgdorferi entry into and egress from the vector. The blockade of TROSPA by TROSPA antisera or by the repression of TROSPA expression via RNA interference reduced B. burgdorferi adherence to the I. scapularis gut in vivo, thereby preventing efficient colonization of the vector and subsequently reducing pathogen transmission to the mammalian host. Identification of an I. scapularis receptor for B. burgdorferi is the first step toward elucidating arthropod ligands that are required for survival of spirochetes in nature.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology