Send to

Choose Destination
Plasmid. 2013 Sep;70(2):161-7. doi: 10.1016/j.plasmid.2013.05.002. Epub 2013 May 30.

Peaceful coexistence amongst Borrelia plasmids: getting by with a little help from their friends?

Author information

Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, The University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, AB, Canada.


Borrelia species comprise a unique genus of bacterial pathogens. These organisms contain a segmented genome with up to two dozen plasmids ranging in size from 5 kb up to about 200 kb. The plasmids have also been referred to as mini-chromosomes or essential genetic elements, as some of them carry information important for infection of vertebrates or for survival in the tick vector. Most of the plasmids are linear with covalently closed hairpin telomeres and these linear plasmids are in a constant state of genetic rearrangement. The mechanisms of plasmid replication, maintenance and partitioning remain largely obscure and are complicated by a long doubling time, the requirement for expensive media and inefficient genetic manipulation. A set of five parologous protein families (PFs) are believed to confer the ability for autonomous replication and plasmid maintenance. The number of plasmids also complicates analyses because of the possibility that PFs from one plasmid may sometimes function in trans on other plasmids. Two papers in the last year have moved the field forward and their combined data suggest that trans complementation amongst Borrelia plasmids may sometimes occur.


Lyme disease; Plasmid maintenance; Plasmid replication; Replication

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center