Borrelia burgdorferi, the
Lyme disease agent, has double-stranded linear plasmids with covalently closed ends. DNA at the ends, or telomeres, of two linear plasmids of B. burgdorferi strain B31 was examined. Telomeric sequences from both ends of a 16 kb linear plasmid and from one end of a 49 kb linear plasmid were cloned and sequenced. An 18 bp AT-rich inverted repeat was found at each end of the 16 kb linear plasmid. The sequences of the two ends of this plasmid were different beyond these short inverted terminal repeats. The cloned end of the 49 kb linear plasmid had sequence identity with one end of the 16 kb linear plasmid. The end sequence common to both plasmids contained a series of phased, short direct repeats and a 52 bp palindrome adjacent to a highly AT-rich region. These findings indicate that Borrelia linear plasmid telomeres have structural features different from those of other known replicons.