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J Bacteriol. 2011 Dec;193(23):6490-7. doi: 10.1128/JB.05646-11. Epub 2011 Sep 23.

Biochemical and cellular characterization of Helicobacter pylori RecA, a protein with high-level constitutive expression.

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CEA, Institut de Radiobiologie Cellulaire et Moléculaire, UMR217 CNRS/CEA, 18 route du Panorama, F-92265 Fontenay aux Roses, France.


Helicobacter pylori is a bacterial pathogen colonizing half of the world's human population. It has been implicated in a number of gastric diseases, from asymptomatic gastritis to cancer. It is characterized by an amazing genetic variability that results from high mutation rates and efficient DNA homologous recombination and transformation systems. Here, we report the characterization of H. pylori RecA (HpRecA), a protein shown to be involved in DNA repair, transformation, and mouse colonization. The biochemical characterization of the purified recombinase reveals activities similar to those of Escherichia coli RecA (EcRecA). We show that in H. pylori, HpRecA is present in about 80,000 copies per cell during exponential growth and decreases to about 50,000 copies in stationary phase. The amount of HpRecA remains unchanged after induction of DNA lesions, suggesting that HpRecA is always expressed at a high level in order to repair DNA damage or facilitate recombination. We performed HpRecA localization analysis by adding a Flag tag to the protein, revealing two different patterns of localization. During exponential growth, RecA-Flag presents a diffuse pattern, overlapping with the DAPI (4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole) staining of DNA, whereas during stationary phase, the protein is present in more defined areas devoid of DAPI staining. These localizations are not affected by inactivation of competence or DNA recombination genes. Neither UV irradiation nor gamma irradiation modified HpRecA localization, suggesting the existence of a constitutive DNA damage adaptation system.

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