An Unusual Illegitimate Recombination Occurs in the Linear-Plasmid-Encoded Outer-Surface Protein A Gene of Borrelia Afzelii

Microbiology. 1997 Dec;143 ( Pt 12):3819-25. doi: 10.1099/00221287-143-12-3819.


In this study, we describe an unusual illegitimate recombination in the linear-plasmid-encoded outer-surface protein A gene of Borrelia afzelii. A 96 bp DNA segment was deleted from the ospA structural gene of B. afzelii strain R9. The nature of the rearrangement suggested that it arose by a strand slippage mechanism, which was stimulated by a 18-mer palindromic sequence and 5-mer short direct repeats at both termini of the deleted DNA. The deleted sequence could form a complex hairpin structure suggesting that it may have played important roles in pausing of replication and slippaging of the nascent strand across the replication fork. In addition, the mutant strain was isolated from a chronic Lyme disease patient, implying that the variation mechanism may have been used by the borrelial strain to avoid host immune elimination.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Surface / biosynthesis*
  • Antigens, Surface / genetics*
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Base Sequence
  • Borrelia / genetics*
  • Borrelia / isolation & purification
  • Borrelia / pathogenicity
  • Borrelia Infections / microbiology
  • DNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Escherichia coli
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Ixodes / microbiology
  • Lipoproteins*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Plasmids*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid


  • Antigens, Surface
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Lipoproteins
  • OspA protein

Associated data

  • GENBANK/U78301
  • GENBANK/U78549