Seemay Chou, Ph.D.


Seemay Chou, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Biochemistry and Biophysics
University of California, San Francisco
600 16th St.
Genentec Hall, Room N372B
City, State, ZIP
San Francisco, CA 94143
[email protected]
Research field
Microbiology; Parasitology
Award year


The Chou lab will investigate why only certain tick species act as carriers of Lyme disease. Although many ticks can encounter the Lyme-causing bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi in the wild, it is primarily the black-legged tick Ixodes scapularis that transmits Lyme disease in North America. In my laboratory, we recently discovered that disrupting the immune system in ticks that do not normally carry the pathogen renders them susceptible to colonization by B. burgdorferi. Now, using cutting-edge techniques in cell and molecular genetics, bioinformatics, and single-cell RNA sequencing, we will determine whether variations in immunity account for the natural differences in ticks’ intrinsic ability to transmit Lyme disease. Our group will isolate immune cells from four species of ticks and identify which genes or gene products are activated in response to B. burgdorferi exposure in order to compare what happens in ticks that spread the infection versus those that do not. We are also developing tools to examine how B. burgdorferi, in turn, responds to its tick hosts throughout the transmission cycle. This work could lead to novel approaches for tuning tick immunity and reducing ticks’ ability to carry and transmit Lyme disease.

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