Identification of OppA2 linear epitopes as serodiagnostic markers for Lyme disease

Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2014 May;21(5):704-11. doi: 10.1128/CVI.00792-13. Epub 2014 Mar 12.


Laboratory diagnosis of Lyme disease is based on the serological detection of antibodies against the etiologic agent Borrelia burgdorferi. Current diagnostics are insensitive at detecting early infection, when treatment is most effective. This deficiency results from the limited number of B. burgdorferi antigens expressed in early infection and the use of an insensitive two-tier paradigm, put in place to deal with insufficient specificity associated with the use of whole-protein antigens and/or bacterial lysates as serodiagnostic targets. Whole-protein antigens contain epitopes that are unique to B. burgdorferi as well as cross-reactive epitopes found in other bacteria. One method for overcoming the limitations imposed by cross-reactive epitopes is the use of short peptides containing epitopes unique to B. burgdorferi as antigen targets. This eliminates nonspecific epitopes. Using overlapping peptide libraries, we performed epitope mapping of linear epitopes in oligopeptide permease A2 (OppA2), a member of the oligopeptide permease (Opp) family of peptide transporters, expressed during early B. burgdorferi infection. We identified 9 epitopes, synthesized peptides containing these epitopes, and screened those using panels of blood from patients with early Lyme disease, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or syphilis or from healthy individuals. Two of the peptides, OppA2 (191-225) (amino acids comprising the peptide are shown in parentheses) and OppA2 (381-400), are highly conserved among the three major pathogenic Borrelia species responsible for most Lyme disease cases in North America and Europe. They detected antibodies in Lyme disease patient sera with sufficient sensitivity and specificity to indicate that they could have value in a serological assay for Lyme disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood*
  • Antigens, Bacterial* / immunology
  • Bacterial Proteins* / immunology
  • Borrelia burgdorferi / immunology*
  • Epitopes* / immunology
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Lyme Disease / diagnosis*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins* / immunology
  • North America
  • Recombinant Proteins / immunology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Serologic Tests / methods


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Epitopes
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • oligopeptide permease, Bacteria