Characterization of humoral immune responses against Treponema pallidum antigens

Melanie Ann McGill, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The spirochete Treponema pallidum subsp. pallidum is the causative agent of syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease with an estimated 12 million new cases per year worldwide. There is no vaccine currently available for the prevention of syphilis. In the present study, the T. pallidum hypothetical protein TP0693 was examined to determine its cellular location, and its potential for use as a vaccine candidate and immunodiagnostic for syphilis. TP0693 was demonstrated to be strongly reactive with sera from rabbits infected experimentally with T. pallidum for >25 days. Results from proteinase K digestion, immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy were consistent with outer surface localization of TP0693. Serum reactivity against TP0693 was detected in only 68% of syphilis patients, which does not support its use as an immunodiagnostic for syphilis. Immunization of rabbits with TP0693 or three other outer membrane candidates did not alter the course of lesion development atter T. pallidum inoculation. We also examined the T. pallidum proteome by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis coupled with mass spectrometry analysis and immunoblotting. This approach resulted in the identification of 95 unique polypeptides, several of which were reactive with sera from infected rabbits and syphilis patients. The analyses described here enabled us to identify antigens potentially useful as vaccine candidates or diagnostic markers, and may provide insight into host-pathogen interactions during T. pallidum infection.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

McGill, Melanie Ann, "Characterization of humoral immune responses against Treponema pallidum antigens" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3305168.