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Infect Immun. 1995 Aug;63(8):2811-7.

Borrelia burgdorferi shows specificity of binding to glycosphingolipids.

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State of New York Department of Health, SUNY at Stony Brook 11794, USA.


Live but not fixed or heat-killed Borrelia burgdorferi bound to galactocerebroside, lactosylceramide, and ceramide trihexoside. In addition, this organism bound to the disialoganglioside GD1a and the trisialoganglioside GT1b but not to gangliosides GM1, GD1b, GM2, and GM3 and not to asialo GM1. This adhesion pattern confirmed earlier findings of binding to galactocerebroside and places this organism within a prokaryotic group which binds to lactosylceramide. The binding to GD1a and GT1b, both of which carry terminal as well as multiple sialic acids, indicates that B. burgdorferi can show specificity of binding within a group of acidic gangliosides. Adhesion could not be inhibited by several concentrations of sugars and sialic acid, indicating more complex binding requirements than for terminal carbohydrates alone. Low-passage strains adhered to the four substrates in greater numbers than strains in culture for long periods of time. OspB mutants in general bound better or at least equally well to several of the glycosphingolipids, and preincubation of substrates with soluble recombinant and affinity-purified Osp did not inhibitor or weakly inhibited the binding of the organisms. These findings suggest that outer surface lipoproteins A and B are not directly involved in adhesion to glycosphingolipids.

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