Biochemical and immunochemical studies of the outer membrane proteins of Borrelia burgdorferi have shown that the OspA and OspB proteins from strains of different geographic origins may differ considerably in their reactivities with monoclonal antibodies and in their apparent molecular weights. To further characterize this variation in Osp proteins between strains, the osp operons and deduced translation products from two strains, one from Sweden (ACAI) and one from eastern Russia (Ip90), were studied. Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and Western blot (immunoblot) analyses confirmed differences between ACAI, Ip90, and the North American strain B31 in their Osp proteins. The sequences of the ospA and ospB genes of ACAI and Ip90 were compared with that of the previously studied osp operon of B31 (S. Bergström, V. G. Bundoc, and A. G. Barbour, Mol. Microbiol. 3:479-486, 1989). The osp genes of ACAI and Ip90, like the corresponding genes of B31, were found on plasmids with apparent sizes of about 50 kb and are cotranscribed as a single unit. Pairwise comparisons of the nucleotide sequences revealed that the ospA genes of ACAI and Ip90 were 85 and 86% identical, respectively, to the ospA gene of strain B31 and 86% identical to each other. The ospB sequences of these two strains were 79% identical to the ospB gene of B31 and 81% identical to each other. There was significantly greater similarity between the ospA genes of the three different strains than there was between the ospA and ospB genes within each strain. These studies suggest that the duplication of osp genes in B. burgdorferi occurred before the geographical dispersion of strains represented by ACAI, Ip90, and B31.
American Society for Microbiology , 1992. Vol. 60, no 5, 1845-53 p.