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J Bacteriol. 2005 Feb;187(4):1317-23.

Putative coiled-coil structural elements of the BBA68 protein of Lyme disease spirochetes are required for formation of its factor H binding site.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Medical College of Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA.


Factor H and factor H like-protein 1 (FHL-1) are complement regulatory proteins that serve as cofactors for the factor I-mediated cleavage of C3b. Some Lyme disease and relapsing fever spirochete species bind factor H to their surface to facilitate immune evasion. The Lyme disease spirochetes produce several factor H binding proteins (FHBPs) that form two distinct classes. Class I FHBPs (OspE orthologs and paralogs) bind only factor H, while class II FHBPs (BBA68) bind both factor H and FHL-1. BBA68 belongs to a large paralogous protein family, and of these paralogs, BBA69 is the member most closely related to BBA68. To determine if BBA69 can also bind factor H, recombinant protein was generated and tested for factor H binding. BBA69 did not exhibit factor H binding ability, suggesting that among family 54 paralogs, factor H binding is unique to BBA68. To identify the determinants of BBA68 that are involved in factor H binding, truncation and site-directed mutational analyses were performed. These analyses revealed that the factor H binding site is discontinuous and provide strong evidence that coiled-coil structural elements are involved in the formation of the binding site.

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