In this study we report on the molecular characterization of a series of genes that constitute a gene family related to ospE and ospF. Some members of this family appear to represent recombined or variant forms of ospE and ospF. Variant ospE and ospF genes were found in several Borrelia burgdorferi isolates, demonstrating that their occurrence is not a phenomenon relevant to only a single isolate. Hybridization analyses revealed that the upstream sequence originally identified 5' of the full-length ospEF operon exists in multiple copies ranging in number from two to six depending on the isolate. This repeated sequence, which we refer to as the upstream homology box (UHB), carries a putative promoter element. In some isolates, UHB elements were found to flank copies of ospE and ospF that exist independently of each other. We refer to this group of UHB-flanked genes collectively as the UHB gene family. The evolutionary relationships among UHB gene family members were assessed through DNA sequence analysis and gene tree construction. These analyses suggest that some UHB-flanked genes might actually represent divergent forms of other previously described genes. Analysis of the restriction fragment length polymorphism patterns of the UHB-flanked genes among B. burgdorferi isolates demonstrated that these patterns are highly variable among isolates, suggesting that these genes are not phylogenetically conserved. The variable restriction fragment length polymorphism patterns could indicate recombinational activity in these sequences. The presence of numerous copies of the UHB elements and the high degree of homology among UHB-flanked genes could provide the necessary elements to allow for homologous recombination, leading to the generation of recombination variants of UHB gene family members.
|Number of pages||12|
|Journal||Journal of Bacteriology|
|Publication status||Published - 1996|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology