Outer Membrane Proteins BB0405 and BB0406 Are Immunogenic, but Only BB0405 Is Required for Borrelia burgdorferi Infection
We recently identified the Borrelia burgdorferi outer membrane protein (OMP) BB0406 and found that the gene encoding this OMP was cotranscribed with the gene encoding the OMP BB0405. Interestingly, BB0405 and BB0406 share 59% similarity and are grouped into the same B. burgdorferi paralogous gene family. Given their overall similarity, it is plausible that both OMPs have similar or overlapping functions in this pathogenic spirochete. BB0405 was recently shown to be required for mammalian infection despite the observations that BB0405 is poorly immunogenic and not recognized during mouse or human infection. BB0405 orthologs have also been shown to bind the complement regulator protein factor H. Therefore, to better elucidate the role of BB0405 and its paralog BB0406 during infection and in serum resistance, we examined both proteins in animal infection, factor H binding, and serum sensitivity assays. Our combined results suggest that BB0405- and BB0406-specific antibodies are borreliacidal and that both OMPs are immunogenic during nonhuman primate infection. Additionally, while BB0405 was found to be required for establishing mouse infection, BB0406 was not found to be essential for infectivity. In contrast to data from previous reports, however, neither OMP was found to bind human factor H or to be required for enhancing serum resistance of B. burgdorferi in vitro .
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