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106697 (1-30)


(Summary) Tick microbiota can be targeted for the control of tick-borne diseases such as human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA) caused by model pathogen, Anaplasma phagocytophilum. Frankenbacteriosis is inspired by Frankenstein and defined here as paratransgenesis of tick symbiotic/commensal bacteria to mimic and compete with tick-borne pathogens. Interactions between A. phagocytophilum and symbiotic Sphingomonas identified by metaproteomics analysis in Ixodes scapularis midgut showed competition between both bacteria. Consequently, Sphingomonas was selected for frankenbacteriosis for the control of A. phagocytophilum infection and transmission. The results showed that Franken Sphingomonas producing A. phagocytophilum major surface protein 4 (MSP4) mimic pathogen and reduce infection in ticks by competition and interaction with cell receptor components of infection. Franken Sphingomonas-MSP4 transovarial and trans-stadial transmission suggests that tick larvae with genetically modified Franken Sphingomonas-MSP4 could be produced in the laboratory and released in the field to compete and replace the wildtype populations with associated reduction in pathogen infection/transmission and HGA disease risks.


© 2023 The Authors.

This is an open access article under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 License

Data Availability

Article states:

  • "All data reported in this paper will be shared by the lead contact upon request
  • All original code is available in this paper's supplemental information.
  • Any additional information required to reanalyze the data reported in this paper is available from the lead contact upon request."

Lead contact: José de la Fuente

Supplementary materials are available online at:

Original Publication Citation

Mazuecos, L., Alberdi, P., Hernández-Jarguín, A., Contreras, M., Villar, M., Cabezas-Cruz, A., Simo, L., González-García, A., Díaz-Sánchez, S., Neelakanta, G., Bonnet, S. I., Fikrig, E., & de la Fuente, J. (2023). Frankenbacteriosis targeting interactions between pathogen and symbiont to control infection in the tick vector. iScience, 26(5), 1-30, Article 106697.

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