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Borrelia turicatae is one of several spirochete species that can cause relapsing fever. Here, we describe the identification and characterization of a gene from B. turicatae and other relapsing-fever spirochetes that exhibits homology with the rep+ and ORF-E gene families of the
Lyme disease spirochetes. This gene, which we have designated repA, encodes a putative protein of 30.2 kDa with an isoelectric point of 4.69. The central region of RepA harbors a series of amino acid repeat motifs which exhibit homology with casein kinase 2 phosphorylation sites. Through Southern hybridization analyses, we demonstrate that repA (or a closely related sequence) is multicopy in the relapsing-fever spirochetes and is carried on variably sized linear plasmids in both Borrelia parkeri and B. turicatae. Transcriptional analyses demonstrate that repA is expressed, albeit at low levels, during in vitro cultivation of B. turicatae. Transcriptional start site analysis revealed that repA is preceded by a consensus ribosomal binding site and an appropriately spaced promoter element. The sequence conservation, unique features, and multicopy status of repA and its homologs suggest that RepA may play an important genus-wide role in the biology of the Borrelia.