Physical mapping of an origin of bidirectional replication at the centre of the Borrelia burgdorferi linear chromosome

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The Borrelia burgdorferi chromosome is linear, with telomeres characterized by terminal inverted repeats and covalently closed single-stranded hairpin loops. The replication mechanism of these unusual molecules is unknown. Previous analyses of bacterial chromosomes for which the complete sequence has been determined, including that of B. burgdorferi, revealed an abrupt switch in polarity of CG skew at known or putative origins of replication. We used nascent DNA strand analysis to physically map the B. burgdorferi origin to within a 2 kb region at the centre of the linear chromosome, and to show that replication proceeds bidirectionally from this origin. The results are consistent with replication models in which termination occurs at the telomeres after bidirectional, symmetrical elongation from the central origin. Sequences typical of origins of other bacterial chromosomes were not found at the origin of this spirochete. The most likely location of the replication origin of the linear chromosome is the 240 bp sequence between dnaA and dnaN where the switch in CG skew occurs.

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