Molecular characterization of Lyme disease spirochetes (Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato) isolated in Taiwan by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of 5S(rrf)-23S(rrl) intergenic spacer amplicons.

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  • 1 Department of Parasitology and Tropical Medicine, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China.

We analyzed the 5S (rrf)-23S (rrl) intergenic spacer amplicon gene of Lyme disease spirochetes (Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato) for the first time in Taiwan. The genetic identities of these Taiwan isolates (TWKM1-7) were clarified by comparing their restriction fragment length polymorphism patterns and sequence similarities of the polymerase chain reaction-amplified intergenic spacer amplicon genes with 3 major genospecies of Lyme disease spirochetes. Amplified-spacer DNAs were purified further and subjected to the cleavage by nuclease DraI or MseI. Differential fragment patterns in relation to different genospecies of Lyme disease spirochetes were observed among tested Borrelia isolates, and all of these Taiwan isolates were closely related to the genospecies of B. burgdorferi sensu stricto. The phylogenetic analysis also revealed that the sequence similarity of polymerase chain reaction-amplified spacer genes of these Taiwan isolates was highly homogeneous (95.7-100%) within the genospecies of B. burgdorferi sensu stricto and can be distinguished clearly from other genospecies of Lyme disease spirochetes with a 4.1% sequence divergence. Based on the differential fragment patterns and sequence similarity among these Taiwan isolates, the genetic identity of these Taiwan isolates should be classified into the genospecies of B. burgdorferi sensu stricto.

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