Evasion of protective immunity by Borrelia burgdorferi by truncation of outer surface protein B

Erol Fikrig, Hong Tao, Fred S. Kantor, Stephen W Barthold, Richard A. Flavell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Scopus citations


We analyzed variability in outer surface protein B (OspB) from Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), the causative agent of Lyme disease, to determine how Bb escapes immune destruction. We have shown that vaccination with OspB from Bb strain B31 protected mice from infection with Bb B31 but not against Bb N40. The present study demonstrates that Bb N40 spirochetes which evade vaccination immunity to OspB have a truncated form of OspB, due to a TAA stop codon at nucleotide 577. In contrast, Bb N40 spirochetes that express full-length OspB are unable to infect mice immunized with OspB, analogous to our previous studies with Bb B31. Mapping of the OspB antibody response shows that epitopes in the C terminus of OspB are surface-exposed and bind protective monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies. This suggests that the C terminus of OspB is important for eliciting a protective immune response to OspB. Truncation or modification of outer surface proteins that do not bind protective antibody may be a means by which Bb evades host defenses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4092-4096
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 1993
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General
  • Genetics

Cite this