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Molecular characterization of the humoral response to the 41-kilodalton flagellar antigen of Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme disease agent.

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Abstract

The earliest humoral response in patients infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of
Lyme disease, is directed against the spirochete’s 41-kDa flagellar antigen. In order to map the epitopes recognized on this antigen, 11 overlapping fragments spanning the flagellin gene were cloned by polymerase chain reaction and inserted into an Escherichia coli expression vector which directed their expression as fusion proteins containing glutathione S-transferase at the N terminus and a flagellin fragment at the C terminus. Affinity-purified fusion proteins were assayed for reactivity on Western blots (immunoblots) with sera from patients with late-stage
Lyme disease. The same immunodominant domain was bound by sera from 17 of 18 patients. This domain (comprising amino acids 197 to 241) does not share significant homology with other bacterial flagellins and therefore may be useful in serological testing for
Lyme disease.

Infect Immun. 1991 Oct;59(10):3531-5. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t; Research Support, U.S. Gov’t, P.H.S.

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