granulocytic anaplasmosis is the second-most-common tick-borne infection
in the United States. It can cause headaches, muscle pain, and
Before infecting humans, tick-borne bacteria or viruses first have to
get past a tick's defenses to colonize it. How this occurs is not well
‘In ticks, the bacterium that causes the infection, triggers the expression of a protein that alters molecules in the tick's gut, allowing the bacteria to enter and colonize the gut microbes.’
To investigate, Yale researchers studied a model of the human
The researchers found that in ticks, the bacterium that causes the infection, A. phagocytophilum
triggers the expression of a particular protein. This protein alters
molecules in the tick's gut, allowing the bacteria to enter and colonize
the gut microbes.
"It's like a stealth warrior that indirectly changes the tick by
using the tick's own defense system," said Erol Fikrig, chief of
the Infectious Diseases Section at Yale School of Medicine and senior
author of the study.
The unexpected finding could help scientists develop strategies to block A. phagocytophilum
and other tick-borne agents that cause disease, say the researchers.
Fikrig's team will explore the phenomenon in the bacterium that causes
Lyme disease, and its work could have implications for other
mosquito-borne infections, such as Zika and West Nile.
The study was published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences