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J Clin Microbiol. 1996 Apr;34(4):942-6.

Identification of murine helicobacters by PCR and restriction enzyme analyses.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary, Pathobiology, University of Missouri, Columbia 65211, USA.


Three murine helicobacter species have recently been identified: Helicobacter hepaticus, Helicobacter muridarum, and Helicobacter bilis. Infections with H. hepaticus and H. bilis have been associated with hepatitis and hepatic neoplasia. In this study, oligonucleotide primers were designed from regions of the 16S rRNA gene that are conserved among members of the Helicobacter genus. The assay amplified the expected 374-bp product from all three rodent Helicobacter species and was able to detect as little as 5 pg of H. hepaticus, H. bilis, or H. muridarum DNA. The specificity of the reaction was determined by testing cecal DNA from uninfected mice and mice with documented Helicobacter infections and by testing DNA from other bacterial genera. A product of the expected size was generated with cecal DNA from Helicobacter-infected mice but not with DNA from uninfected mice. With the exception of that of "Flexispira rappini, " which is closely related to the Helicobacter genus, DNA from other bacterial genera was not amplified with the Helicobacter genus-specific primers. MboI, MaeI, and HhaI restriction enzyme analyses of the amplified product were able to differentiate among the murine Helicobacter species but could not differentiate H. bilis from "F. rappini." To distinguish H. bilis, a reverse primer based on H. bilis 16S rRNA sequence was designed. PCR with the H. bilis-specific reverse primer (Hbr) and the Helicobacter genus-specific forward primer (H276f) amplified H. bilis DNA but not DNA from "F. rappini" or other rodent helicobacters. Examination of a large number of murine cecal tissues with this combination of PCR assays and restriction enzyme analyses indicated that H. hepaticus and H. bilis infections are widespread in laboratory mouse and rat colonies.

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