Alexis A. Smith

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Borrelia burgdorferi, a tick-borne bacterial pathogen, causes a disseminated infection involving multiple organs known as Lyme disease. Surface proteins can directly participate in microbial virulence by facilitating pathogen dissemination via interaction with host factors. We show here that a fraction of the B. burgdorferi chromosomal gene product BB0337,(More)
Life cycle alternation between arthropod and mammals forces the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, to adapt to different host milieus by utilizing diverse carbohydrates. Glycerol and chitobiose are abundantly present in the Ixodes tick. B. burgdorferi can utilize glycerol as a carbohydrate source for glycolysis and chitobiose to produce(More)
Ixodes scapularis ticks transmit a wide array of human and animal pathogens including Borrelia burgdorferi; however, how tick immune components influence the persistence of invading pathogens remains unknown. As originally demonstrated in Caenorhabditis elegans and later in Anopheles gambiae, we show here that an acellular gut barrier, resulting from the(More)
Ixodes scapularis, commonly known as the deer tick, transmits a wide array of human and animal pathogens including Borrelia burgdorferi. Despite substantial advances in our understanding of immunity in model arthropods, including other disease vectors, precisely how I. scapularis immunity functions and influences persistence of invading pathogens remains(More)
Leptospira interrogans is the agent for leptospirosis, an important zoonosis in humans and animals across the globe. Surface proteins of invading pathogens, such as L. interrogans, are thought to be responsible for successful microbial persistence in vivo via interaction with specific host components. In particular, a number of invasive infectious agents(More)
The insect immune deficiency (IMD) pathway resembles the tumour necrosis factor receptor network in mammals and senses diaminopimelic-type peptidoglycans present in Gram-negative bacteria. Whether unidentified chemical moieties activate the IMD signalling cascade remains unknown. Here, we show that infection-derived lipids(More)
Evolution of hematophagy in blood-sucking parasites likely involves communication with their hosts. We find that Ixodes ticks are responsive to IFNγ acquired in a blood meal from mice infected with the Lyme disease-causing bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, leading to induction of antimicrobial responses. Ixodes ticks parasitizing B. burgdorferi-infected mice(More)
La7, an immunogenic outer membrane lipoprotein of Borrelia burgdorferi, produced during infection, has been shown to play a redundant role in mammalian infectivity. Here we show that La7 facilitates pathogen survival in all tested phases of the vector-specific spirochete life cycle, including tick-to-host transmission. Unlike wild type or la7-complemented(More)
Borrelia burgdorferi harbors a limited set of transmembrane surface proteins, most of which constitute key targets of humoral immune responses. Here we show that BB0405, a conserved membrane-spanning protein of unknown function, fails to evoke detectable antibody responses despite its extracellular exposure. bb0405 is a member of an operon and ubiquitously(More)
High-temperature requirement protease A (HtrA) represents a family of serine proteases that play important roles in microbial biology. Unlike the genomes of most organisms, that of Borrelia burgdorferi notably encodes a single HtrA gene product, termed BbHtrA. Previous studies identified a few substrates of BbHtrA; however, their physiological relevance(More)