Immunoblot using recombinant antigens derived from different genospecies of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato

Med Microbiol Immunol. 1994 Feb;183(1):43-59. doi: 10.1007/BF00193630.


Immunodominant proteins are variable in molecular and antigenic structure among different genospecies of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato. We have recently developed an immunoblot using five recombinant antigens: the chromosomal-encoded B. burgdorferi proteins p100, the flagellin and an internal flagellin fragment thereof, and the plasmid-encoded outersurface proteins A (OspA) and C (OspC). In the present study the same antigens (derived from strain PKo, genospecies B. afzelii) were compared with the homologous recombinant proteins from strain B31 (genospecies B. burgdorferi sensu stricto) and with OspA, OspC and the internal flagellin fragment from strain PBi (genospecies B. garinii). Patients with neuroborreliosis (n = 28) and patients with acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans (n = 20) were investigated in the IgG immunoblot; the IgM immunoblot was performed only in patients with neuroborreliosis. There was a small increase in the detection rate of OspA-specific IgG or IgM antibodies using the different variants of recombinant OspA; however, OspA remained an insensitive antigen for antibody detection in Lyme borreliosis. The same was true to OspC-specific IgG antibodies. The sensitivity of OspC, which is the immunodominant antigen for IgM antibody detection, could not be increased using recombinant antigens derived from different strains. However, some sera which were negative in the recombinant immunoblot reacted with OspC in the conventional immunoblot using B. burgdorferi whole cell lysate as antigen. The most unexpected finding was the high degree of immunological heterogeneity of the internal flagellin fragments: IgG antibodies were detected in 18 of 48 patients using B31 fragments, in 25 of 48 using PKo fragments, in 23 of 48 using PBi fragments versus 33 of 48 when the three recombinant proteins were combined. PKo-derived fragments were more sensitive for antibody detection in patients with acrodermatitis chronica atrophicans, B31- and PBi-derived fragments for antibody detection in patients with neuroborreliosis. This is in agreement with the fact that isolates from patients with neuroborreliosis are predominantly belonging to the genospecies B. burgdorferi sensu stricto and B. garinii. For detection of IgM antibodies in sera from patients with neuroborreliosis, recombinant internal fragments derived from strains B31 and PBi were more sensitive than the PKo-derived fragment. The best discrimination between neuroborreliosis sera and control sera was achieved when the IgM blot was performed using recombinant internal flagellin fragments derived from strains PKo and PBi and OspC derived from B31 or PKo.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Bacterial / analysis
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Antigens, Surface / immunology
  • Bacterial Proteins / analysis
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / genetics
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / immunology*
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Genome, Bacterial*
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Immunoglobulin M / analysis
  • Lyme Disease / immunology
  • Recombinant Proteins / immunology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Antigens, Surface
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Recombinant Proteins