Interactions between ticks and lyme disease spirochetes

Utpal Pal, Chrysoula Kitsou, Dan Drecktrah, Özlem Büyüktanir Yaş, Erol Fikrig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato causes Lyme borreliosis in a variety of animals and humans. These atypical bacterial pathogens are maintained in a complex enzootic life cycle that primarily involves a vertebrate host and Ixodes spp. ticks. In the Northeastern United States, I. scapularis is the main vector, while wild rodents serve as the mammalian reservoir host. As B. burgdorferi is transmitted only by I. scapularis and closely related ticks, the spirochete-tick interactions are thought to be highly specific. Various borrelial and arthropod proteins that directly or indirectly contribute to the natural cycle of B. burgdorferi infection have been identified. Discrete molecular interactions between spirochetes and tick components also have been discovered, which often play critical roles in pathogen persistence and transmission by the arthropod vector. This review will focus on the past discoveries and future challenges that are relevant to our understanding of the molecular interactions between B. burgdorferi and Ixodes ticks. This information will not only impact scientific advancements in the research of tick- transmitted infections but will also contribute to the development of novel preventive measures that interfere with the B. burgdorferi life cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-144
Number of pages32
JournalCurrent Issues in Molecular Biology
StatePublished - 2021


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