Andrea Gomez Chamorro




Laboratoire d'écologie et évolution des parasites
Institut de biologie
Rue Emile-Argand 11
2000 Neuchâtel

Tél +41 32 718 30 97


Pathogen recognition is a critical step in mobilizing the host immune system. In vertebrate hosts, the innate immune receptors of the Toll-like receptor family function in pathogen recognition and elaboration of the acquired immune response. These receptors recognize conserved pathogen-associated molecular patterns that are difficult to change. For example, Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) recognizes lipoproteins that are specific to bacteria. Borrelia burgdorferi, the spirochete bacteria that causes Lyme disease, expresses a wide variety of lipoproteins on its outer membrane surface. TLR2 was therefore hypothesized to play an important role in the innate immune response against B. burgdorferi. This association has been shown under laboratory conditions using functionally deficient TLR2 mice, but research on the ecologically relevant reservoir hosts is lacking. In Europe, the bank vole (Myodes glareolus) is one of the most important reservoir hosts of Borrelia afzelii. Recent fieldwork found that bank vole populations are highly polymorphic for the TLR2 gene and that this genetic variation is correlated with the probability of being infected with B. afzelii. However, to date, there are no experimental infection studies showing a causal relationship between the TLR2 genotype and the risk of infection with B. afzelii in wild bank voles. During my phD, I will test whether such a causal relationship exists. We plan to capture wild bank voles in the forests surrounding Neuchatel for genetic analysis and breeding. Field-captured adults will be crossed to produce pathogen-free, lab-born voles of known TLR2 genotype. These voles will be challenged with B. afzelii-infected nymphs to test their susceptibility/resistance. We predict to find a causal relationship between the TLR2 gene polymorphism and resistance/susceptibility to B. afzelii infection in wild bank voles.


Teaching Responsabilities

Teaching pratical course in histology (first year Bachelor students in medical course)