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Cell Host Microbe. 2012 Jun 14;11(6):576-86. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2012.04.013.

The Helicobacter pylori virulence effector CagA abrogates human β-defensin 3 expression via inactivation of EGFR signaling.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Charitéplatz 1, Berlin, Germany.


Antimicrobial peptides are constituents of the first-line innate mucosal defense system that acts as a barrier to establishment of infection. The highly successful human gastric pathogen, Helicobacter pylori, is able to persistently colonize its host despite inducing expression of several antimicrobial peptides, including human β-defensin 3 (hBD3). We find that hBD3 is highly active against H. pylori in vitro and is rapidly induced during early infection via EGFR-dependent activation of MAP kinase and JAK/STAT signaling. However, during prolonged infection, hBD3 was subsequently downregulated by the H. pylori virulence determinant CagA. Upon translocation into host cells, CagA activated the cellular tyrosine phosphatase, SHP-2, terminating EGFR activation and downstream signaling and increasing bacterial viability. Chemical inhibition and knockdown of SHP-2 expression rescued hBD3 synthesis and bactericidal activity. Thus, we reveal how cagPAI-positive H. pylori strains use CagA to evade a key innate mucosal defense pathway to support the establishment of persistent infection.

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