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A Borrelia burgdorferi N40 genomic expression library was screened with serum from actively infected mice to identify gene products that elicit protective immunity. A clone that contained a putative bicistronic operon containing two genes that encoded 20- and 22-kDa lipoproteins was identified and sequenced. These genes showed homology with the genes encoding decorin binding proteins DbpB and DbpA, respectively, of B. burgdorferi 297 and B31. N40-dbpA DNA hybridized with B. burgdorferi N40 DNA on a single 48-kb linear plasmid. Homologous genes could be amplified under various degrees of stringency by PCR or hybridized by Southern blotting from B. burgdorferi sensu stricto N40 and B31, and from B. burgdorferi sensu lato PBi and 25015, but not PKo. Recombinant N40-DbpB and N40-DbpA were reactive with antibody in serum from infected mice, and serum was more reactive against N40-DbpA than against B. burgdorferi N40 recombinant P39, OspC, or OspA. Sera from mice infected with B. burgdorferi sensu lato strains PKo and PBi were weakly reactive against N40-DbpB and N40-DbpA, and sera from mice infected with 25015 were moderately reactive, compared to sera from mice infected with B. burgdorferi N40. Hyperimmunization of mice with N40-DbpA, but not N40-DbpB, induced protective immunity against syringe challenge with cultured B. burgdorferi N40. DbpA may therefore be one of the antigens responsible for eliciting protective antibody known to exist in serum from infected mice. DNA amplification and serology suggest that DbpB and DbpA are likely to have homologs throughout the B. burgdorferi sensu lato family, but they are likely to be heterogeneous.