VlsE - The Main Antigen for Borrelia Serology
VlsE (variable major-protein-like sequence, expressed) is a surface protein of Borrelia. Its significance for the serological diagnosis of borreliosis was overlooked until several years ago.
VlsE plays a key role in the survival strategy of Borrelia. After penetration into the host organism, Borrelia bacteria constantly change their surface-expressed VlsE and, in this way, try to escape recognition and elimination by the immune system.
When deceased Borrelia bacteria are processed by antigen-presenting cells, the complete VlsE protein is presented to the immune system and the host also forms antibodies against the invariable and conserved regions of VlsE. These antibodies are highly suitable for diagnosis of borreliosis because of the high level of conservation or their target antigens.
Of all recombinant antigens tested, VlsE possesses the highest sensitivity for the detection of a Borrelia infection (Schulte-Spechtel et al., J. Clin. Microbiol. 41:1299-1303, 2003).
Over 85% of IgG positive sera could be identified at a glance by assessing the VlsE band. VlsE allows detection of antibodies against all Borrelia species, and the risk of a false negative reaction due to species difference is ten times lower.
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