Comparative membrane proteome analysis of three Borrelia species


Correspondence: Professor Andreas J. Kungl, ProtAffin Biotechnologie AG, Reininghausstrasse 13a, A-8020 Graz, Austria,

E-mail: akungl@protaffin.comFax: +43 316 382 541-4


The versatility of the surface of Borrelia, the causative agent of Lyme borreliosis, is very important in host–pathogen interactions allowing bacteria to survive in ticks and to persist in a mammalian environment. To identify the surface proteome of Borrelia, we have performed a large comparative proteomic analysis on the three most important pathogenic Borrelia species, namely B. burgdorferi (strain B31), B. afzelii (strain K78), and B. garinii (strain PBi). Isolation of membrane proteins was performed by using three different approaches: (i) a detergent-based fractionation of outer membrane proteins; (ii) a trypsin-based partial shedding of outer cell surface proteins; (iii) biotinylation of membrane proteins and preparation of the biotin-labelled fraction using streptavidin. Proteins derived from the detergent-based fractionation were further sub-fractionated by heparin affinity chromatography since heparin-like molecules play an important role for microbial entry into human cells. All isolated proteins were analysed using either a gel-based liquid chromatography (LC)-MS/MS technique or by two-dimensional (2D)-LC-MS/MS resulting in the identification of 286 unique proteins. Ninety seven of these were found in all three Borrelia species, representing potential targets for a broad coverage vaccine for the prevention of Lyme borreliosis caused by the different Borrelia species.