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J Clin Microbiol. 1995 September; 33(9): 2427–2434.
PMCID: PMC228430

Identification of novel insertion elements, restriction fragment length polymorphism patterns, and discontinuous 23S rRNA in Lyme disease spirochetes: phylogenetic analyses of rRNA genes and their intergenic spacers in Borrelia japonica sp. nov. and genomic group 21038 (Borrelia andersonii sp. nov.) isolates.


Borrelia spp. associated with Lyme disease possess an rRNA gene organization consisting of a single 16S rRNA gene followed by a spacer of several kilobases and a tandem repeat of a 23S (rrl)-5S (rrf) rRNA gene cluster. The restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) patterns for these genes have been widely used to classify Lyme disease spirochete isolates. We analyzed the rRNA gene organization and sequences for two Ixodes ovatus isolates from Japan (IKA2 and HO14) and two group 21038 isolates associated with Ixodes dentatus ticks or rabbits from North America (isolates 21038 and 19857). This analysis revealed unique polymorphisms not previously described in other Lyme disease spirochete isolates. The molecular basis of these polymorphisms was determined by Southern blotting and PCR analyses. Only one continuous copy of the rrl-rrf gene cluster was identified in isolates IKA2, 19857, and 21038. The second rrl-rrf gene cluster is entirely absent from the IKA2 genome. In isolates 19857 and 21038, an intervening sequence is present, resulting in a fragment rrlB gene. The insertion site of this intervening sequence element differed in each isolate. While isolates 19857 and 21038 were found to carry a fragmented rrlB gene, they lacked rrfB. To determine if these rRNA polymorphisms were indicative of an underlying phylogenetic divergence, sequence analysis of the 16S rRNA (rrs) genes was conducted. The phylogenies inferred from rrs sequence analysis suggest that the polymorphisms resulted from recent mutational events.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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Selected References

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