P66 Porins Are Present in Both Lyme Disease and Relapsing Fever Spirochetes: A Comparison of the Biophysical Properties of P66 Porins From Six Borrelia Species

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2010 Jun;1798(6):1197-203. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2010.02.011. Epub 2010 Feb 25.


The genus Borrelia is the cause of the two human diseases: Lyme disease (LD) and relapsing fever (RF). Both LD and RF Borrelia species are obligate parasites and are dependent on nutrients provided by their hosts. The first step of nutrient uptake across the outer membrane of these Gram-negative bacteria is accomplished by water-filled channels, so-called porins. The knowledge of the porin composition in the outer membranes of the different pathogenic Borrelia species is limited. Only one porin has been described in relapsing fever spirochetes to date, whereas four porins are known to be present in Lyme disease agents. From these, the Borrelia burgdorferi outer membrane channel P66 is known to act as an adhesin and was well studied as a porin. To investigate if P66 porins are expressed and similarly capable of pore formation in other Borrelia causing Lyme disease or relapsing fever three LD species (B. burgdorferi, B. afzelii, B. garinii) and three RF species (B. duttonii, B. recurrentis and B. hermsii) were investigated for outer membrane proteins homologous to P66. A search in current published RF genomes, comprising the ones of B. duttonii, B. recurrentis and B. hermsii, indicated that they all contained P66 homologues. The P66 homologues of the six Borrelia species were purified to homogeneity and their pore-forming abilities as well as the biophysical properties of the pores were analyzed using the black lipid bilayer assay.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Borrelia / chemistry*
  • Borrelia / metabolism
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry*
  • Lipid Bilayers / metabolism
  • Lyme Disease*
  • Porins / chemistry*
  • Porins / metabolism
  • Relapsing Fever*
  • Species Specificity


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Lipid Bilayers
  • Oms66 protein, Borrelia
  • Porins