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PLoS One. 2011 Mar 21;6(3):e17856. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0017856.

Helicobacter pylori CagA disrupts epithelial patterning by activating myosin light chain.

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Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, United States of America.


Helicobacter pylori infection is a leading cause of ulcers and gastric cancer. We show that expression of the H. pylori virulence factor CagA in a model Drosophila melanogaster epithelium induces morphological disruptions including ectopic furrowing. We find that CagA alters the distribution and increases the levels of activated myosin regulatory light chain (MLC), a key regulator of epithelial integrity. Reducing MLC activity suppresses CagA-induced disruptions. A CagA mutant lacking EPIYA motifs (CagA(EPISA)) induces less epithelial disruption and is not targeted to apical foci like wild-type CagA. In a cell culture model in which CagA(EPISA) and CagA have equivalent subcellular localization, CagA(EPISA) is equally potent in activating MLC. Therefore, in our transgenic system, CagA is targeted by EPIYA motifs to a specific apical region of the epithelium where it efficiently activates MLC to disrupt epithelial integrity.

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