Send to

Choose Destination
Cell. 1997 Apr 18;89(2):275-85.

Antigenic variation in Lyme disease borreliae by promiscuous recombination of VMP-like sequence cassettes.

Author information

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Texas Medical School at Houston 77030, USA.

Erratum in

  • Cell 1999 Feb 5;96(3):447.


We have identified and characterized an elaborate genetic system in the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi that promotes extensive antigenic variation of a surface-exposed lipoprotein, VlsE. A 28 kb linear plasmid of B. burgdorferi B31 (lp28-1) was found to contain a vmp-like sequence (vls) locus that closely resembles the variable major protein (vmp) system for antigenic variation of relapsing fever organisms. Portions of several of the 15 nonexpressed (silent) vls cassette sequences located upstream of vlsE recombined into the central vlsE cassette region during infection of C3H/HeN mice, resulting in antigenic variation of the expressed lipoprotein. This combinatorial variation could potentially produce millions of antigenic variants in the mammalian host.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center