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J Med Microbiol. 2008 May;57(Pt 5):545-53. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.2008/000570-0.

Roles of the plasticity regions of Helicobacter pylori in gastroduodenal pathogenesis.

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Department of Medicine - Gastroenterology, Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Putative virulence genes of Helicobacter pylori are generally classified into three categories: strain-specific genes, phase-variable genes and genes with variable structures/genotypes. Among these, there has recently been considerable interest in strain-specific genes found outside of the cag pathogenicity island, especially genes in the plasticity regions. Nearly half of the strain-specific genes of H. pylori are located in the plasticity regions in strains 26695 and J99. Strain HPAG1, however, seems to lack a typical plasticity region; instead it has 43 HPAG1-specific genes which are either undetectable or incompletely represented in the genomes of strains 26695 and J99. Recent studies showed that certain genes or combination of genes in this region may play important roles in the pathogenesis of H. pylori-associated gastroduodenal diseases. Most previous studies have focused on the plasticity region in strain J99 (jhp0914-jhp0961) and the jhp0947 gene and the duodenal ulcer promoting (dupA) gene are good candidate markers for gastroduodenal diseases although there are some paradoxical findings. The jhp0947 gene is reported to be associated with an increased risk of both duodenal ulcers and gastric cancers, whereas the dupA gene, which encompasses jhp0917 and jhp0918, is reported to be associated with an increased risk of duodenal ulcers and protection against gastric cancers. In addition, recent studies showed that approximately 10-30 % of clinical isolates possess a 16.3 kb type IV secretion apparatus (tfs3) in the plasticity region. Studies on the plasticity region have only just begun, and further investigation is necessary to elucidate the roles of genes in this region in gastroduodenal pathogenesis.

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