Of ticks, mice and men: Understanding the dual-host lifestyle of Lyme disease spirochaetes

Justin D. Radolf, Melissa J. Caimano, Brian Stevenson, Linden T. Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

538 Scopus citations


In little more than 30 years, Lyme disease, which is caused by the spirochaete Borrelia burgdorferi, has risen from relative obscurity to become a global public health problem and a prototype of an emerging infection. During this period, there has been an extraordinary accumulation of knowledge on the phylogenetic diversity, molecular biology, genetics and host interactions of B. burgdorferi. In this Review, we integrate this large body of information into a cohesive picture of the molecular and cellular events that transpire as Lyme disease spirochaetes transit between their arthropod and vertebrate hosts during the enzootic cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-99
Number of pages13
JournalNature Reviews Microbiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge support from the US National Institutes of Health, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (grants AI029735 and AI029735-20S1 to J.D.R. and M.J.C.; AI085248 to M.J.C.; AI044254 to B.S.; and AI071107, AI068799, AI082436 and AI080646 to L.T.H.). The authors also thank S. Dunham-Ems, T. Petnicki-Ocwieja, E. Troy and C. Brissette for invaluable assistance with the figures and the table, many insightful comments and careful proofreading.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases


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