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Infect Immun. 2007 Feb;75(2):1005-16. Epub 2006 Nov 13.

Identification of Helicobacter pylori genes that contribute to stomach colonization.

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  • 1Division of Human Biology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.


Chronic infection of the human stomach by Helicobacter pylori leads to a variety of pathological sequelae, including peptic ulcer and gastric cancer, resulting in significant human morbidity and mortality. Several genes have been implicated in disease related to H. pylori infection, including the vacuolating cytotoxin and the cag pathogenicity island. Other factors important for the establishment and maintenance of infection include urease enzyme production, motility, iron uptake, and stress response. We utilized a C57BL/6 mouse infection model to query a collection of 2,400 transposon mutants in two different bacterial strain backgrounds for H. pylori genetic loci contributing to colonization of the stomach. Microarray-based tracking of transposon mutants allowed us to monitor the behavior of transposon insertions in 758 different gene loci. Of the loci measured, 223 (29%) had a predicted colonization defect. These included previously described H. pylori virulence genes, genes implicated in virulence in other pathogenic bacteria, and 81 hypothetical proteins. We have retested 10 previously uncharacterized candidate colonization gene loci by making independent null alleles and have confirmed their colonization phenotypes by using competition experiments and by determining the dose required for 50% infection. Of the genetic loci retested, 60% have strain-specific colonization defects, while 40% have phenotypes in both strain backgrounds for infection, highlighting the profound effect of H. pylori strain variation on the pathogenic potential of this organism.

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