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Microbes Infect. 2006 Mar;8(3):645-52. Epub 2006 Jan 17.

Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto invasiveness is correlated with OspC-plasminogen affinity.

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  • 1Laboratoire des Spiroch├Ętes, Institut Pasteur, 25-28 rue du Dr Roux, 75724 Paris Cedex 15, France.


Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, the causative agent of Lyme borreliosis, is transmitted through tick bite. Lyme borreliosis evolves in two stages: a primary red skin lesion called erythema migrans; later on, invasive bacteria disseminate to distant sites inducing secondary manifestations (neuropathies, arthritis, carditis, late skin disorders). It has been previously suggested that the ospC gene could be associated with invasiveness in humans depending on its sequence. Here, we confirm the pattern of invasiveness, according to B. burgdorferi sensu stricto (B. b. ss) ospC group, using the mouse as an experimental host of B. b. ss. As it has been shown that the host plasminogen activation system is used by B. burgdorferi to disseminate throughout the host, we studied the interaction of plasminogen with OspC proteins from invasive and non-invasive groups of B. b. ss. Using two methods, ELISA and surface plasmon resonance, we demonstrate that indeed OspC is a plasminogen-binding protein. Moreover, significant differences in binding affinity for plasminogen are correlated with different invasiveness patterns in mice. These results suggest that the correlation between ospC polymorphism and Borrelia invasiveness in humans is linked, at least in part, to differences in OspC affinity for plasminogen.

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