Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 33257684
Link to DOI – 10.1038/s41467-020-19826-2
Nat Commun 2020 11; 11(1): 6106
Pathogens able to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) induce long-term neurological sequelae and death. Understanding how neurotropic pathogens bypass this strong physiological barrier is a prerequisite to devise therapeutic strategies. Here we propose an innovative model of infection in the developing Drosophila brain, combining whole brain explants with in vivo systemic infection. We find that several mammalian pathogens are able to cross the Drosophila BBB, including Group B Streptococcus (GBS). Amongst GBS surface components, lipoproteins, and in particular the B leucine-rich Blr, are important for BBB crossing and virulence in Drosophila. Further, we identify (V)LDL receptor LpR2, expressed in the BBB, as a host receptor for Blr, allowing GBS translocation through endocytosis. Finally, we show that Blr is required for BBB crossing and pathogenicity in a murine model of infection. Our results demonstrate the potential of Drosophila for studying BBB crossing by pathogens and identify a new mechanism by which pathogens exploit the machinery of host barriers to generate brain infection.