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A chemotaxis gene cluster from Borrelia burgdorferi, the spirochete that causes
Lyme disease, was cloned, sequenced, and analyzed. This cluster contained three chemotaxis gene homologs (cheA, cheW and cheY) and an open reading frame we identified as cheX. Although the major functional domains for B. burgdorferi CheW and CheY were well conserved, the size of cheW was significantly different from the homolog of other bacteria. Phylogenetic analysis of CheY indicated that B. burgdorferi constitutes a distinct branch with Treponema pallidum and is closely associated with Archea and Gram-positive bacteria. RT-PCR analysis indicated that the chemotaxis genes and the upstream flagellar gene flaA constitute an operon. Western blot analysis using antibody to Escherichia coli CheA resulted in two reactive proteins in the cell lysates of B. burgdorferi that is consistent with two cheA homologs being present in this organism. The results taken together suggest both similarities and differences in the chemotaxis apparatus of B. burgdorferi compared to those of other bacteria.