We analyzed homotypic and heterotypic antibody responses to a type-specific antigen (Tsa), a 56-kDa protein of Orientia tsutsugamushi, by using sera from mice immunized with strains Gilliam, Karp, Kato, and Boryong. We generated a series of deletion constructs of the tsa gene and expressed them as MalE fusion proteins. Variable domain I (VD I) showed strong responses to homotypic antibodies. Antigenic domain II (AD II) from Boryong and Karp showed cross-reactivities to each other. VD III showed no responses to any of the antibodies. Sera from Kato-immunized mice showed only homotypic responses to AD III. On the other hand, sera of the mice immunized with Gilliam, Karp, or Boryong showed homotypic as well as heterotypic responses to this region. VD IV showed the strongest heterotypic antibody responses among the fragments tested. These data suggest that VD I is important in homotypic antibody responses and that AD II, AD III, and VD IV are important in heterotypic antibody responses of the mice to Tsa
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