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Characterization of surface antigen from Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi.

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Abstract

Borrelia burgdorferi, the
Lyme disease spirochete, possesses a surface protein, VlsE (variable major protein-like sequence, expressed), that undergoes antigenic variation. Unlike conserved regions of other proteins involved in antigenic variation, the most conserved invariable region of VlsE is immunodominant in
Lyme-disease patients. Physicochemical analyses of pure recombinant VlsE yielded the following results: The protein appeared oligomeric in solution, with a secondary structure dominated by alpha-helices. Thermal denaturation (pH 7) probed by calorimetry involved two transitions: oligomer-to-monomer conversion (around 40 degrees C) followed by protein unfolding (55 +/- 1 degrees C). Chemical denaturation monitored by far-UV circular dichroism (20 degrees C, pH 7) sensed only polypeptide unfolding and took place in a single transition (Delta G(U)(H(2)O) = 23 +/- 2 kJ/mol). VlsE did not adopt a native structure at pH 3; at pH 10 the stability was significantly reduced. Knowledge of biophysical properties of VlsE may aid in understanding the mechanism of VlsE antigenic variation in B. burgdorferi.

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2001 Nov 30;289(2):389-94. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t; Research Support, U.S. Gov’t, P.H.S.

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