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Infect Immun. 2007 Jul;75(7):3445-54. Epub 2007 Apr 16.

Heterogeneity in the activity of Mexican Helicobacter pylori strains in gastric epithelial cells and its association with diversity in the cagA gene.

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Unidad de Investigación Medica en Enfermedades Infecciosas y Parasitarias, Hospital de Pediatría, Centro Medico Nacional Siglo XXI, Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS), Av. Cuauhtemoc 330, Mexico, DF CP 06725, Mexico.


Helicobacter pylori CagA is translocated into gastric epithelial cells by a type IV secretion system and interacts with the Src homology 2 phosphatase, altering cell morphology. Multiple EPIYA motifs in CagA are associated with increased activity in cells and with gastric cancer. The aim of this work was to study the heterogeneity in activity in cells of multiple H. pylori single colonies isolated from a single patient and its association with polymorphism in cagA. The presence of cagA, cagE, cagT, and cag10 was studied with 318 H. pylori isolates from the antra and corpora of 18 patients. AGS gastric epithelial cells were infected with 75 isolates, and interleukin-8 (IL-8) secretion, cytoskeletal changes, CagA translocation, and tyrosine phosphorylation were measured. The cagA 3'-variable region was sequenced for 30 isolates to determine the number and types of EPIYA motifs. Isolates from an individual stomach were usually genetically related and had quantitatively similar phenotypic effects on cells (IL-8 induction and cytoskeletal changes). However, strains from different patients with similar CagA EPIYA motif patterns varied widely in these phenotypes. Among isolates with an EPIYA-ABC pattern, the phenotype was variable: IL-8 induction ranged from 200 to 1,200 pg/ml, and morphological changes occurred in 20 to 70% of cells. In several cases, cagA sequence diversity appeared to explain the lack of CagA activity, as isolates with an EPIYA-ACC pattern or a modified B motif had reduced cell activity. cag pathogenicity island-positive H. pylori isolates displayed a high level of heterogeneity in the capacity to induce IL-8 secretion and morphological changes; an absent or modified B motif was associated with low activity.

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