We describe a phylogenetic investigation of sensu lato, the causative agent of Lyme disease, based on a DNA sequence analysis of the gene, which encodes protein HBb, a member of the family of histone-like proteins. Because of their intimate contact with the DNA molecule, these proteins are believed to be fairly conserved through evolution. In this study we proved that the gene is suitable for phylogenetic inference in the genus . The gene, which is 327 bp long and encodes 108 amino acids, was sequenced for 39 strains, including 37 strains of sensu lato, 1 strain of , and 1 strain of . Genetic variability was determined at the sequence level by computational analysis. Briefly, 81 substitutions were scored at the DNA level. Only 25 of these substitutions were responsible for amino acid substitutions at the translational level. The signature region for bacterial histone-like proteins was found in . Although variable at the nucleotide level, it was highly conserved at the deduced amino acid level. A phylogenetic tree for the genus that was generated from multiple sequence alignments was consistent with previously published data derived from DNA-DNA hybridization and multilocus enzyme electrophoresis analyses. The subdivision of sensu lato into five species ( sensu stricto, , and ”) and at least four genomic groups (groups PotiB2, VS116, CA2, and DN127) was confirmed.


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