Research ArticleHEALTH AND MEDICINE

The genome of Peromyscus leucopus, natural host for Lyme disease and other emerging infections

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Science Advances  24 Jul 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 7, eaaw6441
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw6441

Abstract

The rodent Peromyscus leucopus is the natural reservoir of several tick-borne infections, including Lyme disease. To expand the knowledge base for this key species in life cycles of several pathogens, we assembled and scaffolded the P. leucopus genome. The resulting assembly was 2.45 Gb in total length, with 24 chromosome-length scaffolds harboring 97% of predicted genes. RNA sequencing following infection of P. leucopus with Borreliella burgdorferi, a Lyme disease agent, shows that, unlike blood, the skin is actively responding to the infection after several weeks. P. leucopus has a high level of segregating nucleotide variation, suggesting that natural resistance alleles to Crispr gene targeting constructs are likely segregating in wild populations. The reference genome will allow for experiments aimed at elucidating the mechanisms by which this widely distributed rodent serves as natural reservoir for several infectious diseases of public health importance, potentially enabling intervention strategies.

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