Linden Hu, MD
Dr. Hu’s laboratory works on host-pathogen interactions of the Lyme disease pathogen, Borrelia burgdorferi. His prior work has focused on how the organism co-opts host inflammatory processes to complete functions required for its pathogenesis. His laboratory has defined how B. burgdorferi binds and protects against inactivation the host serine protease plasmin. Plasmin, in turn, is important in activating host proteases of the matrix metalloproteinase family, which are utilized by the organism to digest extracellular matrix and disseminate from the inoculation site and to modulate the immune response. The laboratory also researches how B. burgdorferi recognizes and adapts to its different host environments. To this end, his laboratory has investigated mechanisms by which B. burgdorferi recognizes unique molecules that are present within specific hosts. Recognition of these molecules allows the bacteria to express proteins required for survival in one host but not another for the minimum required time-- allowing the organism to escape host immune processes that would otherwise effectively target these proteins and kill the organism. Dr. Hu’s laboratory is also working on the development of reservoir targeted vaccines to reduce carriage of the disease in the wild, thereby also reducing human disease.