During persistent infection, optimal expression of bacterial factors is required to match the ever-changing host environment. The gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori has a large set of simple sequence repeats (SSR), which constitute contingency loci. Through a slipped strand mispairing mechanism, the SSRs generate heterogeneous populations that facilitate adaptation. Here, we present a model that explains, in molecular terms, how an intergenically located T-tract, via slipped strand mispairing, operates with a rheostat-like function, to fine-tune activity of the promoter that drives expression of the sialic acid binding adhesin, SabA. Using T-tract variants, in an isogenic strain background, we show that the length of the T-tract generates multiphasic output from the sabA promoter. Consequently, this alters the H. pylori binding to sialyl-Lewis x receptors on gastric mucosa. Fragment length analysis of post-infection isolated clones shows that the T-tract length is a highly variable feature in H. pylori. This mirrors the host-pathogen interplay, where the bacterium generates a set of clones from which the best-fit phenotypes are selected in the host. In silico and functional in vitro analyzes revealed that the length of the T-tract affects the local DNA structure and thereby binding of the RNA polymerase, through shifting of the axial alignment between the core promoter and UP-like elements. We identified additional genes in H. pylori, with T- or A-tracts positioned similar to that of sabA, and show that variations in the tract length likewise acted as rheostats to modulate cognate promoter output. Thus, we propose that this generally applicable mechanism, mediated by promoter-proximal SSRs, provides an alternative mechanism for transcriptional regulation in bacteria, such as H. pylori, which possesses a limited repertoire of classical trans-acting regulatory factors.
Bacteria shed a diverse set of outer membrane vesicles that function as transport vehicles to deliver effector molecules and virulence factors to host cells. Helicobacter pylori is a gastric pathogen that infects half of the world's population, and in some individuals the infection progresses into peptic ulcer disease or gastric cancer. Here we report that intact vesicles from H. pylori are internalized by clathrin-dependent endocytosis and further dynamin-dependent processes, as well as in a cholesterol-sensitive manner. We analyzed the uptake of H. pylori vesicles by gastric epithelial cells using a method that we refer to as quantification of internalized substances (qIS). The qIS assay is based on a near-infrared dye with a cleavable linker that enables the specific quantification of internalized substances after exposure to reducing conditions. Both chemical inhibition and RNA interference in combination with the qIS assay showed that H. pylori vesicles enter gastric epithelial cells via both clathrin-mediated endocytosis and additional endocytic processes that are dependent on dynamin. Confocal microscopy revealed that H. pylori vesicles colocalized with clathrin and dynamin II and with markers of subsequent endosomal and lysosomal trafficking. Interestingly, however, knockdown of components required for caveolae had no significant effect on internalization and knockdown of components required for clathrin-independent carrier (CLIC) endocytosis increased internalization of H. pylori vesicles. Furthermore, uptake of vesicles by both clathrin-dependent and -independent pathways was sensitive to depletion, but not sequestering, of cholesterol in the host cell membrane suggesting that membrane fluidity influences the efficiency of H. pylori vesicle uptake.
CD46 is a C3b/C4b binding complement regulator and a receptor for several human pathogens. We examined the interaction between CD46 and Helicobacter pylori (a bacterium that colonizes the human gastric mucosa and causes gastritis), peptic ulcers, and cancer.
Helicobacter pylori outer membrane proteins, such as the blood group antigen-binding adhesin (BabA), are associated with severe pathological outcomes. However, the in vivo role of BabA during long-term infection is not clear. In this study, Mongolian gerbils were infected with H. pylori and necropsied continuously during 18 months. Bacterial clones were recovered and analyzed for BabA expression, Leb-binding activity, and adhesion to gastric mucosa. BabA expression was completely absent by 6 months post-infection. Loss of BabA expression was attributable to nucleotide changes within the babA gene that resulted in a truncated BabA. In response to the infection, changes in the epithelial glycosylation pattern were observed that were similar to responses observed in humans and monkeys. Furthermore, infections with BabA-expressing and BabA-nonexpressing H. pylori showed no differences in colonization, but infection with the BabA-expressing strain exhibited histological changes and increased inflammatory cell infiltration. This suggests that BabA expression contributes to severe mucosal injury.
Helicobacter pylori can cause peptic ulcer disease and/or gastric cancer. Adhesion of bacteria to the stomach mucosa is an important contributor to the vigour of infection and resulting virulence. H. pylori adheres primarily via binding of BabA adhesins to ABO/Lewis b (Leb) blood group antigens and the binding of SabA adhesins to sialyl-Lewis x/a (sLex/a) antigens. Similar to most Gram-negative bacteria, H. pylori continuously buds off vesicles and vesicles derived from pathogenic bacteria often include virulence-associated factors. Here we biochemically characterized highly purified H. pylori vesicles. Major protein and phospholipid components associated with the vesicles were identified with mass spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance. A subset of virulence factors present was confirmed by immunoblots. Additional functional and biochemical analysis focused on the vesicle BabA and SabA adhesins and their respective interactions to human gastric epithelium. Vesicles exhibit heterogeneity in their protein composition, which were specifically studied in respect to the BabA adhesin. We also demonstrate that the oncoprotein, CagA, is associated with the surface of H. pylori vesicles. Thus, we have explored mechanisms for intimate H. pylori vesicle-host interactions and found that the vesicles carry effector-promoting properties that are important to disease development.
Lipids play a central role in numerous biological events, ranging from normal physiological processes to host-pathogen interactions. The proposed semiconstant-time (31)P,(1)H-COSY NMR experiment provides identification of known and structural characterization of unknown phospholipids in complex membrane extracts with high sensitivity, based on the combination of their (1)H and (31)P chemical shifts and coupling patterns. Furthermore, the spectra allow quantification of phospholipid composition. Analysis of the phospholipid composition of Helicobacter pylori, the causative agent of peptic ulcer disease, showed the presence of uncommon phospholipids. This novel NMR approach allows the study of changes in membrane composition in response to biological stimuli and opens up the possibility of identifying soluble phosphorus species in a number of research fields.
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