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Borrelia recurrentis, the cause of louse-borne relapsing fever, has until recently been considered noncultivable, which has prevented characterization of this spirochete. We successfully cultivated 18 strains from patients with louse-borne relapsing fever and present the initial characterization of these isolates. Electron microscopy revealed spirochetal cells with pointed ends, an average wavelength of 1.8 microns, an amplitude of 0.8 micron, and 8 to 10 periplasmic flagella. The G+C ratio was 28.4 mol%. Whole DNA-DNA hybridizations showed similarity between the isolates of B. recurrentis but not with Borrelia hermsii, Borrelia parkeri, Borrelia turicatae, or the Lyme-associated borreliae. Sequencing studies of both the flagellin and 16S RNA genes revealed that the greatest similarity was between B. recurrentis and Borrelia duttonii. Analysis of the sodium dodecyl sulfate-polycarylamide gel electrophoresis profiles of strains revealed four groups based on the position of a major protein band (one of the groups showed some heterogeneity and was subdivided into four subgroups). Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis revealed five distinct patterns.

Original publication

DOI

10.1099/00207713-47-4-958

Type

Journal article

Journal

Int J Syst Bacteriol

Publication Date

10/1997

Volume

47

Pages

958 - 968

Keywords

Borrelia, DNA, Bacterial, Flagellin, Lyme Disease, Microscopy, Electron, Molecular Sequence Data, Phylogeny, Plasmids, RNA, Ribosomal, 16S, Sequence Alignment, Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid