Conservation of Gene Arrangement and an Unusual Organization of rRNA Genes in the Linear Chromosomes of the Lyme Disease Spirochaetes Borrelia Burgdorferi, B. Garinii and B. Afzelii

Microbiology. 1994 Nov;140 ( Pt 11):2931-40. doi: 10.1099/13500872-140-11-2931.


Physical maps of the chromosomes of the Lyme disease spirochaetes Borrelia garinii and Borrelia afzelii have been elucidated for the enzymes CspI, SgrAI, I-CeuI, SmaI, EagI, BssHII, MluI and ApaI by two-dimensional pulsed-field gel electrophoresis techniques. The maps contain 42 sites for B. garinii and 32 for B. afzelii. The mapping studies showed that the two chromosomes are linear DNA molecules of 953 and 948 kbp, respectively. A comparison of the physical maps of B. garinii and B. afzelii and the published map of the other Lyme disease spirochaete, Borrelia burgdorferi [Davidson, B.E., MacDougall, J. & Saint Girons, I. (1992) J Bacteriol 174, 3766-3774] revealed that the three chromosomes have few endonuclease sites in common, apart from a cluster in rrl (encoding 23S rRNA) and rrs (encoding 16S rRNA). Cloned borrelial genes were used as specific hybridization probes to construct genetic maps, using the physical maps as a basis. The resulting maps contain 41 genetic loci for B. burgdorferi, 39 for B. garinii, and 33 for B. afzelii. In contrast to the physical maps, the three genetic maps are closely related, with no detectable differences in gene order along the entire length of the chromosome. It is concluded that the chromosomes of these three borrelial species have undergone no major rearrangements, deletions or insertions during their evolution from a common ancestor. Detailed mapping of the region of the B. garinii and B. afzelii chromosomes that encodes rRNA revealed that each chromosome contains one copy of rrs separated by 5 kbp from two copies each of rrl and rrf (encoding 5S rRNA). (ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Borrelia / genetics*
  • Borrelia burgdorferi Group / genetics
  • Chromosome Mapping*
  • Chromosomes, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Conserved Sequence
  • DNA, Bacterial / metabolism
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics*
  • Deoxyribonucleases, Type II Site-Specific / metabolism
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Pulsed-Field
  • Gene Dosage
  • Genes, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Lyme Disease / microbiology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Operon / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 23S / genetics
  • Species Specificity


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 23S
  • Deoxyribonucleases, Type II Site-Specific

Associated data

  • GENBANK/L32145
  • GENBANK/L32146
  • GENBANK/L32595
  • GENBANK/L32861
  • GENBANK/L35050
  • GENBANK/L43849
  • GENBANK/L46347