Erol Fikrig MD

Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases) and Professor of Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases) and of Microbial Pathogenesis; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Section Chief, Infectious Diseases

Research Interests

Vector-borne diseases; Lyme disease; Human granulocytic ehrilichiosis; West Nile virus

Research Summary

My laboratory investigates vector-borne diseases. Studies are directed toward understanding Lyme disease, Human granulocytic ehrlichiosis, and West Nile virus. Efforts on Lyme disease include exploring immunity to Borrelia burgdorferi, selective B. burgdorferi gene expression in vivo, and the immunobiology of Lyme arthritis. Human granulocytic ehrlichiosis is caused by a newly described pathogen, transmitted by Ixodes scapularis ticks, that persists within neutrophils.

We are investigating the molecular strategies that this pathogen uses to survive in polymorphonuclear leukocytes. West Nile virus can cause fatal encephalitis, and we seek to understand the pathogenesis of this emerging disease. Finally, we are also developing molecular approaches to prevent ticks from feeding on a mammalian host, thereby interfering with pathogen transmission.

Selected Publications

  • Silver, A.C., A. Arjona, W.E. Walker, and E. Fikrig. 2012. The circadian clock controls toll-like receptor 9-mediated innate and adaptive immunity. Immunity 36:251-261. 3315694
  • Schuijt, T.J., J. Coumou, S. Narasimhan, J. Dai, K. Deponte, D. Wouters, M. Brouwer, A. Oei, J.J. Roelofs, A.P. van Dam, T. van der Poll, C. Van't Veer, J.W. Hovius, and E. Fikrig. 2011. A tick mannose-binding lectin inhibitor interferes with the vertebrate complement cascade to enhance transmission of the lyme disease agent. Cell Host Microbe 10:136-146. 3170916
  • Cheng, G., J. Cox, P. Wang, M.N. Krishnan, J. Dai, F. Qian, J.F. Anderson, and E. Fikrig. 2010. A C-type lectin collaborates with a CD45 phosphatase homolog to facilitate West Nile virus infection of mosquitoes. Cell 142:714-725. 2954371
  • Wang, P., A. Arjona, Y. Zhang, H. Sultana, J. Dai, L. Yang, P.M. LeBlanc, K. Doiron, M. Saleh, and E. Fikrig. 2010. Caspase-12 controls West Nile virus infection via the viral RNA receptor RIG-I. Nat Immunol 11:912-919.
  • Krishnan M, Ng A, Sukumaran B, Gilfoy F, Uchil P, Sultana H, Brass A, Adametz R, Tsui M, Qian F, Montgomery RR, Lev S, Mason P, Koski R, Elledge S, Xavier R, Agaisse H, Fikrig E. RNA interference screen for human genes associated with West Nile virus infection. Nature 455, 425-5, 2008.

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