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Microbes Infect. 2004 Jul;6(8):725-37.

Subfamily I Treponema pallidum repeat protein family: sequence variation and immunity.

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Department of Pathobiology, University of Washington, Box 357185, 1959 NE Pacific Street, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


A 12-membered Treponema pallidum repeat (Tpr) protein family has been identified in T. pallidum subsp. pallidum, the causative agent of syphilis. The subfamily I Tpr proteins (C, D, F, and I) possess conserved sequence at the N- and C-termini and central regions that differentiate the members. These proteins may be important in the immune response during syphilis infection and in protective immunity. Strong antibody responses have been observed toward some of the subfamily I Tpr proteins during infection with different syphilis isolates. Some sequence variation has also been identified in one subfamily I Tpr member, TprD, among T. pallidum subsp. pallidum isolates. In this study, we examined sequences in the remaining subfamily I Tpr proteins among strains. Both TprF and TprI were conserved among T. pallidum subsp. pallidum isolates. While some heterogeneity was identified in TprC. We further examined the immune response and protective capacity of TprF protein in this paper. We demonstrate that the N-terminal conserved region of the subfamily I Tpr proteins elicits strong antibody and T-cell responses during infection, and immunization with this region attenuates syphilitic lesion development upon infectious challenge.

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