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Comparative analysis of the properties and ligand binding characteristics of CspZ, a factor H binding protein, derived from Borrelia burgdorferi isolates of human origin.

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Borrelia burgdorferi CspZ (BBH06/BbCRASP-2) binds the complement regulatory protein factor H (FH) and additional unidentified serum proteins. The goals of this study were to assess the ligand binding capability of CspZ orthologs derived from an extensive panel of human
Lyme disease isolates and to further define the molecular basis of the interaction between FH and CspZ. While most B. burgdorferi CspZ orthologs analyzed bound FH, specific, naturally occurring polymorphisms, most of which clustered in a specific loop domain of CspZ, prevented FH binding in some orthologs. Sequence analyses also revealed the existence of CspZ phyletic groups that correlate with FH binding and with the relationships inferred from ribosomal spacer types (RSTs). CspZ type 1 (RST1) and type 3 (RST3) strains bind FH, while CspZ type 2 (RST2) strains do not. Antibody responses to CspZ were also assessed. Anti-CspZ antibodies were detected in mice by week 2 of infection, indicating that there was expression during early-stage infection. Analyses of sera collected from infected mice suggested that CspZ production continued over the course of long-term infection as the antibody titer increased over time. While antibody to CspZ was detected in several human
Lyme disease serum samples, the response was not universal, and the titers were generally low. Vaccination studies with mice demonstrated that while CspZ is immunogenic, it does not elicit an antibody that is protective or that inhibits dissemination. The data presented here provide significant new insight into the interaction between CspZ and FH and suggest that there is a correlation between CspZ production and dissemination. However, in spite of its possible contributory role in pathogenesis, the immunological analyses indicated that CspZ is likely to have limited potential as a diagnostic marker and vaccine candidate for
Lyme disease.

Infect Immun. 2009 Oct;77(10):4396-405. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00393-09. Epub 2009 Jul 20.

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