The sequence of the RNase P RNA gene (rnpB) was determined for 60 strains representing all nine species in the family Chlamydiaceae and for the related Chlamydiales species, Parachlamydia acanthamoebae and Simkania negevensis. These sequences were used to infer evolutionary relationships among the Chlamydiaceae. The analysis separated Chlamydophila and Chlamydia into two lineages, with Chlamydophila forming three distinct clusters: the Chlamydophila pneumoniae strains; the Chlamydophila pecorum strains; and a third cluster comprising the species Chlamydophila psittaci, Chlamydophila abortus, Chlamydophila caviae and Chlamydophila felis. The Chlamydia line of descent contained two clusters, with the Chlamydia suis strains distinctly separated from strains of Chlamydia trachomatis and Chlamydia muridarum. This analysis indicated that the rnpB sequence and structure are distinctive markers for species in the Chlamydiaceae. It was also demonstrated that the RNase P RNA derived from Chlamydia trachomatis is able to cleave a tRNA precursor in the absence of protein. These findings are discussed in relation to the structure of Chlamydia RNase P RNA.


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