Outer surface protein C (OspC) of the Lyme disease spirochetes is an important virulence factor that has potential utility for vaccine development. Of the 21 OspC types that have been identified, it has been postulated that types A, B, I, and K are specifically associated with invasive infections. Through an analysis of isolates collected from patients in Maryland we found that OspC types C, D, and N are also associated with invasive infections. This observation suggests that there is greater diversity in the group of OspC types associated with invasive infection than has been previously suggested. Detailed knowledge of the antigenic structure of OspC is essential for vaccine development. To determine if the antibody response to OspC is type specific, recombinant proteins of several different OspC types were immnunoblotted and screened with sera from mice infected with isolates having known OspC types. These analyses revealed a high degree of specificity in the antibody response and suggested that the immunodominant epitopes of OspC reside in the variable domains of the protein. To localize these epitopes, OspC fragments were generated and screened with serum collected from infected mice. These analyses led to identification of previously uncharacterized epitopes that define the type specificity of the OspC antibody response. These analyses provide important insight into the antigenic structure of OspC and also provide a basis for understanding the variable nature of the antibody response to this important virulence factor of the Lyme disease spirochetes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases