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The presence of a low molecular mass polypeptidic antigen in Borrelia burgdorferi was described. The protein was exposed at the bacterial surface since it was clearly identified by mAb 3H4 using the immunofluorescence test performed with living bacteria. This antigen was cleaved by proteinase K treatment, whereas it was resistant to the action of chymotrypsin, trypsin and thermolysin. Western blotting analysis of the immunological reactivity of this antigenic structure performed using monoclonal antibody, mouse-immune ascitic fluids raised against B. burgdorferi and other spirochetes, sera from patients with
Lyme disease and other infirmities in which false positive results in serological tests for B. burgdorferi have been described, demonstrated that this protein expresses only species-specific epitopes which may be recognized during human B. burgdorferi infections.