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Infect Immun. 2010 Jun;78(6):2631-43. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00173-10. Epub 2010 Apr 12.

Characterization and serologic analysis of the Treponema pallidum proteome.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Texas-Houston Medical School, 6431 Fannin Street, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Treponema pallidum subsp. pallidum is the causative agent of syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease characterized by widespread tissue dissemination and chronic infection. In this study, we analyzed the proteome of T. pallidum by the isoelectric focusing (IEF) and nonequilibrating pH gel electrophoresis (NEPHGE) forms of two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2DGE), coupled with matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight (MALDI-TOF) analysis. We determined the identity of 148 T. pallidum protein spots, representing 88 T. pallidum polypeptides; 63 of these polypeptides had not been identified previously at the protein level. To examine which of these proteins are important in the antibody response to syphilis, we performed immunoblot analysis using infected rabbit sera or human sera from patients at different stages of syphilis infection. Twenty-nine previously described antigens (predominantly lipoproteins) were detected, as were a number of previously unidentified antigens. The reactivity patterns obtained with sera from infected rabbits and humans were similar; these patterns included a subset of antigens reactive with all serum samples tested, including CfpA, MglB-2, TmpA, TmpB, flagellins, and the 47-kDa, 17-kDa, and 15-kDa lipoproteins. A unique group of antigens specifically reactive with infected human serum was also identified and included the previously described antigen TpF1 and the hypothetical proteins TP0584, TP0608, and TP0965. This combined proteomic and serologic analysis further delineates the antigens potentially useful as vaccine candidates or diagnostic markers and may provide insight into the host-pathogen interactions that occur during T. pallidum infection.

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