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Infect Immun. 1995 May;63(5):1658-62.

Selection of variant Borrelia burgdorferi isolates from mice immunized with outer surface protein A or B.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8031, USA.


A nonclonal population of Borrelia burgdorferi N40 (passage 3) that survived protective immunity following challenge inoculation of outer surface protein (Osp) A- or B-hyperimmunized mice were characterized for the molecular basis of evasion of immunity. Two of six B. burgdorferi isolates, cultured from OspA-immunized mice, had antigenic diversity in the carboxyl terminus of OspA and did not bind to the protective OspA monoclonal antibody designated IXDII. However, OspA-immunized mice challenged with these variants were fully protected. Moreover, B. burgdorferi isolates with a point mutation in ospB, which results in a truncated OspB that does not bind to protective OspB monoclonal antibody 7E6C, were frequently enriched after infection of OspB-immunized mice. These studies suggest that the incomplete efficacy of an OspA- or OspB-based vaccine may be partly due to immunomediated in vivo selective pressure, resulting in the persistence of some spirochetes that do not bind to protective antibodies.

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