Borrelia burgdorferi infection-associated surface proteins ErpP, ErpA, and ErpC bind human plasminogen

Catherine A. Brissette, Katrin Haupt, Diana Barthel, Anne E. Cooley, Amy Bowman, Christina Skerka, Reinhard Wallich, Peter F. Zipfel, Peter Kraiczy, Brian Stevenson

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92 Scopus citations


Host-derived plasmin plays a critical role in mammalian infection by Borrelia burgdorferi. The Lyme disease spirochete expresses several plasminogen-binding proteins. Bound plasminogen is converted to the serine protease plasmin and thereby may facilitate the bacterium's dissemination throughout the host by degrading extracellular matrix. In this work, we demonstrate plasminogen binding by three highly similar borrelial outer surface proteins, ErpP, ErpA, and ErpC, all of which are expressed during mammalian infection. Extensive characterization of ErpP demonstrated that this protein bound in a dose-dependent manner to lysine binding site I of plasminogen. Removal of three lysine residues from the carboxy terminus of ErpP significantly reduced binding of plasminogen, and the presence of a lysine analog, ε-aminocaproic acid, inhibited the ErpP-plasminogen interaction, thus strongly pointing to a primary role for lysine residues in plasminogen binding. Ionic interactions are not required in ErpP binding of plasminogen, as addition of excess NaCl or the polyanion heparin did not have any significant effect on binding. Plasminogen bound to ErpP could be converted to the active enzyme, plasmin. The three plasminogen-binding Erp proteins can also bind the host complement regulator factor H. Plasminogen and factor H bound simultaneously and did not compete for binding to ErpP, indicating separate binding sites for both host ligands and the ability of the borrelial surface proteins to bind both host proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-306
Number of pages7
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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