College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Department of Veterinary Medicine

Utpal Pal PhD


Program Leader I Tick Immunity





Professional Experience

  • 2016 Professor, Veterinary Medicine, University of Maryland
  • 2016 Director, Veterinary Medical Sciences Graduate Program, University of Maryland
  • 2011 Associate Professor, Veterinary Medicine, University of Maryland
  • 2011 Affiliate Faculty, Biological Sciences Graduate Program, University of Maryland
  • 2007 Affiliate Faculty, Entomology, University of Maryland
  • 2006 Assistant Professor, Veterinary Medicine, University of Maryland
  • 2002 Associate Research Scientist, Yale University School of Medicine
  • 1998 Post Doctoral Fellow, Yale University School of Medicine

Current Research Topics

  • Lyme disease, Leptospirosis and Vector Biology
  • Genetic and antigenic determinants of Borrelia burgdorferi infection
  • Pathogenesis of Lyme disease
  • Vaccine and diagnostic potentials of select antigens
  • Host-pathogen interactions - pathogen receptors in the vector and hosts
  • Virulence factors of Leptospira interrogans
  • Biology and genetics of Ixodes scapularis ticks



Teaching: Course Organizer and Instructor

  • VMSC689: Use of Genomics and Proteomics in Infectious Disease, 3 Credits 
  • VMSC698 (Rotation Organizer): Seminar in Veterinary Medical Science, 1-2 Credits

WScientific diagram of a cross-species signaling pathway

Above: A cross-species Interferon signaling pathway boosts microbicidal activity within the ticks; for details, see Cell Host & Microbe 20, p91–98, 2016


Review article

  • Kung F, Anguita J, Pal U. Borrelia burgdorferi and tick proteins supporting pathogen persistence in the vector. Future Microbiol. 2013 Jan;8:41-56. doi: 10.2217/fmb.12.121.
  • de Silva A, Tyson KR and Pal U. Molecular characterization of the tick Borrelia interface. In Molecular biology of ticks and the tick pathogen interface, Edited by Jose de la Fuente, Katherine M. Kocan and Daniel E. Sonenshine, Frontier in Bioscience, 14, pp 3051-3063, 2009.
  • Pal U and Fikrig E. Adaptation of Borrelia burgdorferi in the vector and vertebrate host. Microbes & Infect, 5:659-666, 2003.



Above: Dorsal Confocal Immunofluorescence
image of a Ixodes nymph



Book Chapter

  • Pal U and Fikrig E. Tick Interactions (Chapter 11). In Borrelia: Molecular and Cellular Biology, Edited by D. Scott Samuels and Justin D. Radolf, Horizon Scientific Press (Norwich, UK), in press. 2009. Link
  • Pal U, Anderson JF and Fikrig E. Borrelia burgdorferi and Ixodes scapularis: Exploring the Pathogen-Vector Interface. In Molecular Biology of Spirochetes, edited by Felipe C. Cabello, Dagmar Hulinska, Henry P. Godfrey, NATO Science Series, I: Life and Behavioural Sciences, Volume 373, 345- 353, 2006.


Above: Immunofluorescence image of cultured Lyme disease pathogens



  • Yang X, Smith AA, Williams MS, and Pal U. A Dityrosine Network Mediated by Dual Oxidase and Peroxidase Influences the Persistence of Lyme DiseasPathogens within the Vector. J Biol Chem 289: 12813-22, 2014
  • Lin Y, Benoit V, Yang X, Martínez-Herranz R, Pal U and Leong JM. Strain-specific variation of the decorin-binding adhesin DbpA influences the tissue tropism of the Lyme disease spirochete. PLoS Pathog 10(7): e1004238, 2014
  • Kariu T, Sharma K, Singh P, Smith AA, Backstedt BT, Buyuktanir O, and Pal U. BB0323 and novel virulence determinant BB0238: Borrelia burgdorferi proteins that interact with and stabilize each other and are critical for infectivity. J Infect Dis 211: 462-71, 2015
  • Yang X, Lin Y, Heselpoth RD, Buyuktanir O, Qin J, Kung F, Nelson DN, Leong JM, and Pal U. Middle region of a Borrelia burgdorferi surface protein interacts with host chondroitin-6-sulfate and independently facilitates infection. Cell Microbiol 18(1):97-110., 2016
  • Kung F Kaur S, Smith AA, Yang X, Wilder CN, Sharma K, Buyuktanir O, and Pal U. A Borrelia burgdorferi surface-exposed transmembrane protein lacking detectable immune responses supports pathogen persistence and constitutes a vaccine target. J Infect Dis 213(11): 1786-95, 2016
  • Ye M, Sharma K, Thakur M, Smith AA, Buyuktanir O, Xiang X, Yang X, Promnares K, Lou Y, Yang XF, Pal U. HtrA, a Temperature- and Stationary Phase-Activated Protease Involved in Maturation of a Key Microbial Virulence Determinant, Facilitates Borrelia burgdorferi Infection in Mammalian Hosts. Infect Immun 84(8):2372-81, 2016
  • Smith AA, Navasa N, Yang X, Wilder CN, Buyuktanir O, Marques A, Anguita J, Pal U. Cross-Species Interferon Signaling Boosts Microbicidal Activity within the Tick Vector. Cell Host Microbe 20(1): 91-8, 2016


Top: Ventral view of a Ixodes nymph,

Center: Colonized Lyme disease pathogens within tick gut – Confocal Immunofluorescence,

Above: Scanning EM image of cultured Lyme disease pathogens.



Complete bibliography:












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