Crystal structure of outer surface protein C (OspC) from the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi

EMBO J. 2001 Mar 1;20(5):971-8. doi: 10.1093/emboj/20.5.971.


Outer surface protein C (OspC) is a major antigen on the surface of the Lyme disease spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi, when it is being transmitted to humans. Crystal structures of OspC have been determined for strains HB19 and B31 to 1.8 and 2.5 A resolution, respectively. The three-dimensional structure is predominantly helical. This is in contrast to the structure of OspA, a major surface protein mainly present when spirochetes are residing in the midgut of unfed ticks, which is mostly beta-sheet. The surface of OspC that would project away from the spirochete's membrane has a region of strong negative electrostatic potential which may be involved in binding to positively charged host ligands. This feature is present only on OspCs from strains known to cause invasive human disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antigens, Bacterial / chemistry*
  • Antigens, Bacterial / genetics
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Binding Sites
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / chemistry*
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / genetics
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / pathogenicity
  • Borrelia burgdorferi*
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Dimerization
  • Lyme Disease / microbiology*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Static Electricity


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • OspC protein
  • Recombinant Proteins

Associated data

  • PDB/1F1M
  • PDB/1GGQ