The reactivity of cloned T cells and serum antibodies, obtained from patients with chronic
Lyme arthritis, with expressed recombinant B. burgdorferi 60-kDa heat shock protein homologue (HSP60) was analyzed. The expressed recombinant Borrelia burgdorferi HSP60 was bound by antibodies in the sera of patients with
Lyme arthritis, but not by control sera. A T cell clone (CR253), isolated from one of four patients examined, exhibited an HLA-DR2 restricted proliferative response to the expressed recombinant B. burgdorferi HSP60. This T cell clone specifically recognized the HSP60 of B. burgdorferi and did not proliferate in response to the human, mycobacterial, or Escherichia coli HSP60 homologues. The epitope recognized by this cloned T cell, located between amino acids 260 and 274, is in a region of the spirochetal HSP60 that is not conserved between bacteria and eukaryotes.