Subscribe to the World's Most Popular Newsletter (it's free!)
The correlation of plasmid profiles with infectivity was investigated by using five clones of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto strain B31 (ATCC 35210). Plasmid profiles were determined by pulsed-field and two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. The 50% infectious dose (ID50) in hamsters was determined. The ID50 of the clone that possessed a full complement of eight linear and three circular plasmids was 10(3) cells. The loss of the 27.5- and 40-kb linear plasmids did not decrease the infectivity of these cells. Rather, the loss of the 27.5-kb linear plasmid was associated with a more disseminated infection. A moderate decrease of the ID50 from 10(3) to 10(5) cells correlated with the loss of the 9.0-kb circular plasmid and the 27.5-kb linear plasmid. A major loss of infectivity (ID50 > 10(3) cells) occurred with cells that lost the 24.7- and 27.5-kb linear plasmids and the 9.0-kb circular plasmid. A 3.0-kb HindIII fragment of the 24.7-kb linear plasmid was used as a probe to determine the presence of the homologous sequences in the three genospecies of
Lyme disease spirochetes. An analysis of 21 infectious strains of B. burgdorferi sensu stricto, B. garinii, and B. afzelii revealed a consistent association of infectivity with strains possessing a linear plasmid (size range, 24 to 36 kb) that hybridized with the HindIII fragment. Western immunoblotting with hamster antisera against infectious B31 clone C-3 revealed two proteins with molecular masses of 28 and 43 kDa that were absent in the noninfectious B31 clone C-1. Additionally, a 14-kDa protein was absent in C-1 but present in infectious clone C-9 as shown by two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis.