The relapsing fever spirochete Borrelia hermsii contains multiple, antigen-encoding circular plasmids that are homologous to the cp32 plasmids of Lyme disease spirochetes

Brian Stevenson, Stephen F. Porcella, Katrina L. Oie, Cecily A. Fitzpatrick, Sandra J. Raffel, Lori Lubke, Merry E. Schrumpf, Tom G. Schwan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations

Abstract

Borrelia hermsii, an agent of tick-borne relapsing fever, was found to contain multiple circular plasmids approximately 30 kb in size. Sequencing of a DNA library constructed from circular plasmid fragments enabled assembly of a composite DNA sequence that is homologous to the cp32 plasmid family of the Lyme disease spirochete, B, burgdorferi. Analysis of another relapsing fever bacterium, B. parkeri, indicated that it contains linear homologs of the B. hermsii and B. burgdorferi cp32 plasmids. The B. hermsii cp32 plasmids encode homologs of the B. burgdorferi Mlp and Bdr antigenic proteins and BlyA/BlyB putative hemolysins, but homologs of B. burgdorferi erp genes were absent. Immunoblot analyses demonstrated that relapsing fever patients produced antibodies to Mlp proteins, indicating that those proteins are synthesized by the spirochetes during human infection. Conservation of cp32-encoded genes in different Borrelia species suggests that their protein products serve functions essential to both relapsing fever and Lyme disease spirochetes. Relapsing fever borreliae replicate to high levels in the blood of infected animals, permitting direct detection and possible functional studies of Mlp, Bdr, BlyA/BlyB, and other cp32-encoded proteins in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3900-3908
Number of pages9
JournalInfection and Immunity
Volume68
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases

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