Scientists identified a protein that protects against Lyme disease

A finding that may help diagnose and treat this infection.


Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium spread by ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.

Scientists from Yale University have discovered a protein that helps protect hosts from infection with the tick-borne spirochete that causes Lyme Disease.

Scientists used a novel yeast display screening assay of over 1,000 human immune proteins probed against several isolates of Borrelia to uncover biologically relevant interactions for the Lyme disease pathogen. They found that one protein, Peptidoglycan Recognition Protein 1 (PGLYRP1), acts as an early warning signal to the immune system when exposed to the bacteria. When exposed to the Lyme spirochete, mice lacking PGLYRP1 had much higher levels of B. burgdorferi than mice with the protein and showed signs of immune system dysfunction.

Yale’s Erol Fikrig, the Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases) and professor of epidemiology (microbial diseases) and microbial pathogenesis, said“Stimulating the ability of people to make more of this protein could help fight infection.”

Scientists are also investigating whether people with higher levels of PGLYRP1 may be less susceptible to infection by B. burgdorferi. This would help them understand why some infected individuals have better outcomes.

Journal Reference:
  1. Akash Gupta et al. A human secretome library screen reveals a role for Peptidoglycan Recognition Protein 1 in Lyme borreliosis. PLOS Pathogens, 2020; DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1009030
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