Selection of variant Borrelia burgdorferi isolates from mice immunized with outer surface protein A or B

Infect Immun. 1995 May;63(5):1658-62. doi: 10.1128/IAI.63.5.1658-1662.1995.


A nonclonal population of Borrelia burgdorferi N40 (passage 3) that survived protective immunity following challenge inoculation of outer surface protein (Osp) A- or B-hyperimmunized mice were characterized for the molecular basis of evasion of immunity. Two of six B. burgdorferi isolates, cultured from OspA-immunized mice, had antigenic diversity in the carboxyl terminus of OspA and did not bind to the protective OspA monoclonal antibody designated IXDII. However, OspA-immunized mice challenged with these variants were fully protected. Moreover, B. burgdorferi isolates with a point mutation in ospB, which results in a truncated OspB that does not bind to protective OspB monoclonal antibody 7E6C, were frequently enriched after infection of OspB-immunized mice. These studies suggest that the incomplete efficacy of an OspA- or OspB-based vaccine may be partly due to immunomediated in vivo selective pressure, resulting in the persistence of some spirochetes that do not bind to protective antibodies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Bacterial*
  • Antigens, Surface / genetics
  • Antigens, Surface / immunology*
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / immunology*
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / genetics*
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Female
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Genetic Variation
  • Immunoblotting
  • Lipoproteins*
  • Lyme Disease / immunology
  • Lyme Disease / microbiology
  • Lyme Disease / prevention & control*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Recombinant Proteins / immunology
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Vaccination*


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Antigens, Surface
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Lipoproteins
  • OspA protein
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • OspB protein, Borrelia burgdorferi