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Borrelia burgdorferi induces a type I interferon response during early stages of disseminated infection in mice

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    BMC Microbiol
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    Background Lyme borrelia genotypes differ in their capacity to cause disseminated disease. Gene array analysis was employed to profile the host transcriptome induced by Borrelia burgdorferi strains with different capacities for causing disseminated disease in the blood of C3H/HeJ mice during early infection. Results B. burgdorferi B515, a clinical isolate that causes disseminated infection in mice, differentially regulated 236 transcripts (P < 0.05 by ANOVA, with fold change of at least 2). The 216 significantly induced transcripts included interferon (IFN)-responsive genes and genes involved in immunity and inflammation. In contrast, B. burgdorferi B331, a clinical isolate that causes transient skin infection but does not disseminate in C3H/HeJ mice, stimulated changes in only a few genes (1 induced, 4 repressed). Transcriptional regulation of type I IFN and IFN-related genes was measured by quantitative RT-PCR in mouse skin biopsies collected from the site of infection 24 h after inoculation with B. burgdorferi. The mean values for transcripts of Ifnb, Cxcl10, Gbp1, Ifit1, Ifit3, Irf7, Mx1, and Stat2 were found to be significantly increased in B. burgdorferi strain B515-infected mice relative to the control group. In contrast, transcription of these genes was not significantly changed in response to B. burgdorferi strain B331 or B31-4, a mutant that is unable to disseminate. Conclusions These results establish a positive association between the disseminating capacity of B. burgdorferi and early type I IFN induction in a murine model of Lyme disease.
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