Identifier

etd-02202010-133406

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Veterinary Medical Sciences - Pathobiological Sciences

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

Lyme disease is a multisystem disorder caused by the tick vector Borrelia burgdorferi. During its life cycle between the tick vector and the mammalian host, Borrelia up- and down-regulates the expression of its surface lipoproteins. Of its many surface lipoproteins, the Outer surface protein C (OspC) is crucial for initial mammalian infection. OspC has a common role shared with other lipoproteins of protection against host innate defences and a unique function in facilitating the dissemination of B. burgdorferi in the murine host. The structure of OspC was solved in 2001 and the lipoprotein was found to be predominantly alpha-helical with 5 alpha helices and 2 beta sheets interconnected by 6 loops, and an N- and C-terminus. Not much is known as to how the OspC structure relates to the function of the lipoprotein and/or possible regulation. The up-and down-regulation of OspC is achieved by the rpoS alternative sigma factor and by an unidentified repressor, respectively. Several truncated versions of OspC were tested in an OspC-deficient background to better understand the role of the amino acid sequences deleted. Structural deletions of 5 to 8-AA made within the OspC core, resulted in loss of infectivity. Longer deletions of 10- and 13 AA towards the N- and C-terminus of OspC, respectively, also resulted in loss of infectivity. Interestingly, a deletion of only 5-AA of the N-terminus of OspC did not affect the role of OspC in evasion but caused inefficient dissemination of B. burgdorferi in SCID mice. Interestingly, whereas the deletion of N-terminus 5-AA of OspC resulted in upregulation, a deletion of 6- and 9-AA of the C-terminus of OspC resulted in downregulation of ospC mRNA in joints, indicating that OspC may be involved in self-regulation. This hypothesis was confirmed by the use of monoclonal antibody treatment. Deletion of 6-AA of the C-terminus of OspC resulted in lower spirochete burdens in heart and joint, whereas deletion of 9-AA resulted in higher spirochete burden in skin, indicating the tissue-dependent effects resulting from the deletion of the C-terminal sequence. Taken together, these results indicate that OspC is involved in the pathogenesis of B. burgdorferi.

Date

2010

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Liang, Fang-Ting

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