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Immunological and molecular polymorphisms of OspC, an immunodominant major outer surface protein of Borrelia burgdorferi

Immunological and molecular polymorphisms of OspC, an immunodominant major outer surface protein of Borrelia burgdorferi

Infection and Immunity 61(5): 2182-2191

ISSN/ISBN: 0019-9567

PMID: 8478108

The gene of the immunodominant major protein pC of Borrelia burgdorferi was previously cloned and sequenced (R. Fuchs, S. Jauris, F. Lottspeich, V. Preac-Mursic, B. Wilske, and E. Soutschek, Mol. Microbiol. 6:503-509, 1992). pC is abundantly expressed on the outer surface of B. burgdorferi, as demonstrated by immunoelectron microscopy with monoclonal antibody L22 1F8. Accordingly, pC is renamed OspC, by analogy to the outer surface proteins OspA and OspB. Western immunoblot analysis of 45 B. burgdorferi isolates with monoclonal antibodies revealed that OspC is immunologically heterogeneous. Partial sequence analysis of the ospC gene confirmed the protein heterogeneity at the genetic level. We found that the degree of identity between the ospC partial sequences of five strains representing different OspA serotypes was only 63.3 to 85.4%. Immunological heterogeneity was also observed among representatives of the three newly designated genospecies of B. burgdorferi sensu lato, B. burgdorferi sensu stricto, B. garinii, and group VS461. Heterogeneity was confirmed for B. garinii at the genetic level. The ospC gene was also cloned from strains that did not express OspC, and antibody-reactive OspC was expressed in Escherichia coli. In addition, OspC-expressing variants were obtained from a nonexpressing strain by plating single colonies on solid medium. These findings confirm that the ospC gene is also present in nonexpressing strains. Because OspC is an immunodominant protein for the early immune response in Lyme borreliosis and was effective as a vaccine in an animal model, the immunological and molecular polymorphisms of ospC and OspC have important implications for the development of diagnostic reagents and vaccines.

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Accession: 002634902

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