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Ixodid tick-associated spirochetes have been implicated as the etiological agents of
Lyme disease. We raised a murine monoclonal antibody (H5332) against a spirochete, strain B31, isolated from Ixodes dammini ticks. In indirect immunofluorescence assays and western blot analyses, H5332 reacted with whole cells or isolated components of not only strain B31 but also spirochetes isolated from Ixodes ricinus ticks, a field mouse, a raccoon, and patients with
Lyme disease. In contrast, H5332 did not bind to representative borreliae, treponemes, and leptospires. Using indirect immunofluorescence assays and immune electron microscopy, we found the H5332 determinant to be diffusely distributed over the surface of prefixed spirochetes but to be aggregated in patches when the organisms were incubated with H5332 and a second ligand before fixation. Radioimmunoprecipitation and western blot studies revealed the H5332 determinant to be either on or tightly associated with an abundant outer membrane protein with an apparent subunit molecular weight of 31,000.