Dual role of MyD88 in rapid clearance of relapsing fever Borrelia spp.
ABSTRACT: Relapsing fever Borrelia spp. undergo antigenic variation, achieve high levels in blood, and require rapid production of immunoglobulin M (IgM) for clearance. MyD88-deficient mice display defective clearance of many pathogens; however, the IgM response to persistent infection is essentially normal. Therefore, MyD88(-/-) mice provided a unique opportunity to study the effect of nonantibody, innate host defenses to relapsing fever Borrelia. Infected MyD88(-/-) mice harbored extremely high levels of B. hermsii in the blood compared to wild-type littermates. In the comparison of MyD88(-/-) mice and B- and T-cell-deficient scid mice, two features stood out: (i) bacterial numbers in blood were at least 10-fold greater in MyD88(-/-) mice than scid mice, even though the production of IgM still occurred in MyD88(-/-) mice; and (ii) many of the MyD88(-/-) mice were able to exert partial clearance, although with delayed kinetics relative to wild-type mice, a feature not seen in scid mice. Further analysis revealed a delay in the IgM response to lipoproteins expressed by the original inoculum; however, by 6 days of infection antibodies were produced in MyD88(-/-) mice that could clear spirochetemia in scid mice. While these results indicated that the production of IgM was delayed in MyD88(-/-) mice, they also point to a second, antibody-independent role for MyD88 signaling in host defense to relapsing fever Borrelia. This second defect was apparent only when antibody levels were limiting.
Project description:Borrelia miyamotoi is a relapsing fever spirochete in Ixodes ticks that has been recently identified as a human pathogen causing hard tick-borne relapsing fever (HTBRF) across the Northern Hemisphere. No validated serologic test exists, and current serologic assays have low sensitivity in early HTBRF. To examine the humoral immune response against B. miyamotoi, we infected C3H/HeN mice with B. miyamotoi strain LB-2001 expressing variable small protein 1 (Vsp1) and demonstrated that spirochetemia was cleared after 3 d, coinciding with anti-Vsp1 IgM production. Clearance was also observed after passive transfer of immune sera to infected SCID mice. Next, we showed that anti-Vsp1 IgG eliminates Vsp1-expressing B. miyamotoi, selecting for spirochetes expressing a variable large protein (VlpC2) resistant to anti-Vsp1. The viability of Asian isolate B. miyamotoi HT31, expressing Vlp15/16 and Vlp18, was also unaffected by anti-Vsp1. Finally, in nine HTBRF patients, we demonstrated IgM reactivity to Vsp1 in two and against Vlp15/16 in four ?1 wk after these patients tested positive for B. miyamotoi by PCR. Our data show that B. miyamotoi is able to express various variable major proteins (VMPs) to evade humoral immunity and that VMPs are antigenic in humans. We propose that serologic tests based on VMPs are of additional value in diagnosing HTBRF.
Project description:Relapsing fever is an infection characterized by peaks of spirochetemia attributable to antibody selection against variable serotypes. In the absence of B cells, serotypes cannot be cleared, resulting in persistent infection. We previously identified differences in spirochetemia and disease severity during persistent infection of severe combined immunodeficiency mice with isogenic serotypes 1 (Bt1) or 2 (Bt2) of Borrelia turicatae. To investigate this further, we studied pathogen load, clinical disease, cytokine/chemokine production, and inflammation in mice deficient in B (Igh6-/-) or B and T (Rag1-/-) cells persistently infected with Bt1 or Bt2. The results showed that Igh6-/- mice, despite lower spirochetemia, had a significantly aggravated disease course compared with Rag1-/- mice. Measurement of cytokines revealed a significant positive correlation between pathogen load and interleukin (IL)-10 in blood, brain, and heart. Bt2-infected Rag1-/- mice harbored the highest spirochetemia and, at the same time, displayed the highest IL-10 plasma levels. In the brain, Bt1, which was five times more neurotropic than Bt2, caused higher IL-10 production. Activated microglia were the main source of IL-10 in brain. IL-10 injected systemically reduced disease and spirochetemia. The results suggest IL-10 plays a protective role as a down-regulator of inflammation and pathogen load during infection with relapsing fever spirochetes.
Project description:The role of the plasminogen activation system (PAS) was investigated during the course of infection of a relapsing fever Borrelia species in plasminogen-deficient (plg -/-) and control (plg +/+ and plg +/-) mice. Subcutaneous inoculation of 10(4) spirochetes resulted in a peak spirochetemia five days after infection with 20-23 x 10(6) organisms per milliliter of whole blood in all mice, indicating that the PAS had no effect on the development of this phase of the infection. Anemia, thrombocytopenia, hepatitis, carditis, and splenomegaly were noted in all mice during and immediately after peak spirochetemia. Fibrin deposition in organs was noted in plg -/- mice but not in controls during these stages. Significantly greater spirochetal DNA burdens were consistently observed in the hearts and brains of control mice 28-30 days after infection, as determined by PCR amplification of this organism's flagellin gene (flaB), followed by quantitative densitometry. Furthermore, the decreased spirochetal load in brains of plg -/- mice was associated with a significant decrease in the degree of inflammation of the leptomeninges in these mice. These findings indicate a role for the PAS in heart and brain invasion by relapsing fever Borrelia, resulting in organ injury.
Project description:DNA methyltransferases have been implicated in the regulation of virulence genes in a number of pathogens. Relapsing fever Borrelia species harbor a conserved, putative DNA methyltransferase gene on their chromosome, while no such ortholog can be found in the annotated genome of the Lyme disease agent, Borrelia burgdorferi. In the relapsing fever species Borrelia hermsii, the locus bh0463A encodes this putative DNA adenine methyltransferase (dam). To verify the function of the BH0463A protein product as a Dam, the gene was cloned into a Dam-deficient strain of Escherichia coli. Restriction fragment analysis subsequently demonstrated that complementation of this E. coli mutant with bh0463A restored adenine methylation, verifying bh0463A as a Dam. The requirement of bh0463A for B. hermsii viability, infectivity, and persistence was then investigated by genetically disrupting the gene. The dam- mutant was capable of infecting immunocompetent mice, and the mean level of spirochetemia in immunocompetent mice was not significantly different from wild type B. hermsii. Collectively, the data indicate that dam is dispensable for B. hermsii viability, infectivity, and persistence.
Project description:The Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) and relapsing-fever (Borrelia hispanica) agents have distinct infection courses, but both require cholesterol for growth. They acquire cholesterol from the environment and process it to form cholesterol glycolipids that are incorporated onto their membranes. To determine whether higher levels of serum cholesterol could enhance the organ burdens of B. burgdorferi and the spirochetemia of B. hispanica in laboratory mice, apolipoprotein E (apoE)-deficient and low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR)-deficient mice that produce large amounts of serum cholesterol were infected with both spirochetes. Both apoE- and LDLR-deficient mice infected with B. burgdorferi had an increased number of spirochetes in the joints and inflamed ankles compared with the infected wild-type (WT) mice, suggesting that mutations in cholesterol transport that result in high serum cholesterol levels can affect the pathogenicity of B. burgdorferi. In contrast, elevated serum cholesterol did not lead to an increase in the spirochetemia of B. hispanica. In the LDLR-deficient mice, the course of infection was indistinguishable from the WT mice. However, infection of apoE-deficient mice with B. hispanica resulted in a longer spirochetemia and increased mortality. Together, these results argue for the apoE deficiency, and not hypercholesterolemia, as the cause for the increased severity with B. hispanica. Serum hyperlipidemias are common human diseases that could be a risk factor for increased severity in Lyme disease.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>In the United States, Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever (TBRF) in dogs is caused by the spirochete bacteria Borrelia turicatae and Borrelia hermsii, transmitted by Ornithodoros spp. ticks. The hallmark diagnostic feature of this infection is the visualization of numerous spirochetes during standard blood smear examination. Although the course of spirochetemia has not been fully characterized in dogs, in humans infected with TBRF the episodes of spirochetemia and fever are intermittent.<h4>Objectives</h4>To describe TBRF in dogs by providing additional case reports and reviewing the disease in veterinary and human medicine.<h4>Animals</h4>Five cases of privately-owned dogs naturally infected with TBRF in Texas are reviewed.<h4>Methods</h4>Case series and literature review.<h4>Results</h4>All dogs were examined because of lethargy, inappetence, and pyrexia. Two dogs also had signs of neurologic disease. All dogs had thrombocytopenia and spirochetemia. All cases were administered tetracyclines orally. Platelet numbers improved and spirochetemia and pyrexia resolved in 4 out of 5 dogs, where follow-up information was available.<h4>Conclusion and clinical importance</h4>TBRF is likely underdiagnosed in veterinary medicine. In areas endemic to Ornithodoros spp. ticks, TBRF should be considered in dogs with thrombocytopenia. Examination of standard blood smears can provide a rapid and specific diagnosis of TBRF when spirochetes are observed.
Project description:In a previous immunoproteome analysis of Borrelia hermsii, candidate antigens that bound IgM antibodies from mice and patients infected with relapsing fever spirochetes were identified. One candidate that was identified is a hypothetical protein with a molecular mass of 57 kDa that we have designated Borrelia immunogenic protein A (BipA). This protein was further investigated as a potential diagnostic antigen for B. hermsii given that it is absent from the Borrelia burgdorferi genome. The bipA locus was amplified and sequenced from 39 isolates of B. hermsii that had been acquired from western North America. bipA was also expressed as a recombinant fusion protein. Serum samples from mice and patients infected with B. hermsii or B. burgdorferi were used to confirm the immunogenicity of the recombinant protein in patients infected with relapsing fever spirochetes. Lastly, in silico and experimental analysis indicated that BipA is a surface-exposed lipoprotein in B. hermsii. These findings enhance the capabilities of diagnosing infection with relapsing fever spirochetes.
Project description:Borrelia hermsii is the most common cause of tickborne relapsing fever in North America. DNA sequences of the 16S-23S rDNA noncoding intergenic spacer (IGS) region were determined for 37 isolates of this spirochete. These sequences distinguished the 2 genomic groups of B. hermsii identified previously with other loci. Multiple IGS genotypes were identified among isolates from an island, which suggested that birds might play a role in dispersing these spirochetes in nature. In support of this theory, all stages of the tick vector Ornithodoros hermsi fed successfully on birds in the laboratory and advanced in their life cycle. B. hermsii produced a detectable spirochetemia in 1 chicken inoculated subcutaneously. Additional work is warranted to explore the role of birds as enzootic hosts for this relapsing fever spirochete.
Project description:Canine cases of relapsing fever (RF) borreliosis have been described in Israel and the USA, where two RF species, Borrelia turicatae and Borrelia hermsii, can cause similar clinical signs to the Borrelia persica in dogs and cats reported from Israel, including fever, lethargy, anorexia, thrombocytopenia, and spirochetemia. In this report, we describe the first clinical cases of two dogs and a cat from Spain (Cordoba, Valencia, and Seville) caused by the RF species Borrelia hispanica. Spirochetes were present in the blood smears of all three animals, and clinical signs included lethargy, pale mucosa, anorexia, cachexia, or mild abdominal respiration. Laboratory findings, like thrombocytopenia in both dogs, may have been caused by co-infecting pathogens (i.e., Babesia vogeli, confirmed in one dog). Anemia was noticed in one of the dogs and in the cat. Borrelia hispanica was confirmed as an infecting agent by molecular analysis of the 16S rRNA locus. Molecular analysis of housekeeping genes and phylogenetic analyses, as well as successful in vitro culture of the feline isolate confirmed the causative agent as B. hispanica.
Project description:Relapsing fever spirochetes, such as Borrelia hermsii, proliferate to high levels in their hosts' bloodstream until production of IgM against borrelial surface proteins promotes bacterial clearance. The mechanisms by which B. hermsii survives in host blood, as well as the immune mediators that control this infection, remain largely unknown. It has been hypothesized that B. hermsii is naturally resistant to killing by the alternative pathway of complement activation as a result of its ability to bind factor H, a host complement regulator. However, we found that Cfh(-/-) mice were infected to levels identical to those seen in wild-type mice. Moreover, only a small minority of B. hermsii in the blood of wild-type mice had detectable levels of factor H adhered to their outer surfaces. In vitro, complement was found to play a statistically significant role in antibody-mediated inactivation of B. hermsii, although in vivo studies indicated that complement is not essential for host control of B. hermsii. Depletion of mphi and DC from mice had significant impacts on B. hermsii infection, and depleted mice were unable to control bloodstream infections, leading to death. Infection studies using muMT indicated a significant antibody-independent role for mphi and/or DC in host control of relapsing fever infection. Together, these findings indicate mphi and/or DC play a critical role in the production of B. hermsii-specific IgM and for antibody-independent control of spirochete levels.