Human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE) is a febrile tick-borne illness caused by a recently discovered intracellular bacterium remarkable for its tropism for professionally phagocytic neutrophils. Monoclonal antibodies against the P-selectin binding domain of the leukocyte P-selectin glycoprotein ligand, PSGL-1, prevented HGE cell binding and infection, as did enzymatic digestion of PSGL-1. Furthermore, simultaneous neoexpression in nonsusceptible cells of complementary DNAs for both PSGL-1 and its modifying α-(1,3) fucosyltransferase, Fuc-TVII, allowed binding and infection by HGE. Thus, the HGE bacterium specifically bound to fucosylated leukocyte PSGL-1. Selectin mimicry is likely central to the organism's unique ability to target and infect neutrophils.
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