Phylogenetic analysis of the rompB genes of Rickettsia felis and Rickettsia prowazekii European-human and North American flying-squirrel strains.

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  • 1 Department of Pathology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston 77555-0609, USA.

The rickettsial outer membrane protein B (rompB) gene encodes the major surface antigens of Rickettsia species. We undertook sequencing and molecular analysis of the rompB gene of Rickettsia felis and a comparison with its homologs in spotted fever group (SFG) and typhus group (TG) rickettsiae, including the complete sequences of two North American flying squirrel strains and two European human strains of Rickettsia prowazekii. We sequenced 5,226 base pairs (bp) of the R. felis rompB, encoding a protein of 1,654 amino acids. We also sequenced 5,015 bp of rompB of the flying squirrel strains, encoding a protein of 1,643 amino acids. Analysis of the R. felis rompB gene sequence showed 10-13% divergence from SFG rickettsiae and 18% divergence from the TG rickettsiae. The rompB of all sequenced strains of R. prowazekii showed an overall similarity of 99.7-99.9%.

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