Comparative transcriptome analysis of Peromyscus leucopus and C3H mice infected with the Lyme disease pathogen. Academic Article uri icon


  • UNLABELLED: Lyme disease (LD), the most prevalent tick-borne disease of humans in the Northern Hemisphere, is caused by the spirochetal bacterium of Borreliella burgdorferi (Bb) sensu lato complex. In nature, Bb spirochetes are continuously transmitted between Ixodes ticks and mammalian or avian reservoir hosts. Peromyscus leucopus mice are considered the primary mammalian reservoir of Bb in the United States. Earlier studies demonstrated that experimentally infected P. leucopus mice do not develop disease. In contrast, C3H mice, a widely used laboratory strain of Mus musculus in the LD field, develop severe Lyme arthritis. To date, the exact tolerance mechanism of P. leucopus mice to Bb-induced infection remains unknown. To address this knowledge gap, the present study has compared spleen transcriptomes of P. leucopus and C3H/HeJ mice infected with Bb strain 297 with those of their respective uninfected controls. Overall, the data showed that the spleen transcriptome of Bb-infected P. leucopus mice was much more quiescent compared to that of the infected C3H mice. To date, the current investigation is one of the few that have examined the transcriptome response of natural reservoir hosts to Borreliella infection. Although the experimental design of this study significantly differed from those of two previous investigations, the collective results of the current and published studies have consistently demonstrated very limited transcriptomic responses of different reservoir hosts to the persistent infection of LD pathogens. IMPORTANCE: The bacterium Borreliella burgdorferi (Bb) causes Lyme disease, which is one of the emerging and highly debilitating human diseases in countries of the Northern Hemisphere. In nature, Bb spirochetes are maintained between hard ticks of Ixodes spp. and mammals or birds. In the United States, the white-footed mouse, Peromyscus leucopus, is one of the main Bb reservoirs. In contrast to humans and laboratory mice (e.g., C3H mice), white-footed mice rarely develop clinical signs (disease) despite being (persistently) infected with Bb. How the white-footed mouse tolerates Bb infection is the question that the present study has attempted to address. Comparisons of genetic responses between Bb-infected and uninfected mice demonstrated that, during a long-term Bb infection, C3H mice reacted much stronger, whereas P. leucopus mice were relatively unresponsive.

published proceedings

  • Front Cell Infect Microbiol

altmetric score

  • 3.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Gaber, A. M., Mandric, I., Nitirahardjo, C., Piontkivska, H., Hillhouse, A. E., Threadgill, D. W., Zelikovsky, A., & Rogovskyy, A. S.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Gaber, Alhussien M||Mandric, Igor||Nitirahardjo, Caroline||Piontkivska, Helen||Hillhouse, Andrew E||Threadgill, David W||Zelikovsky, Alex||Rogovskyy, Artem S

publication date

  • January 2023