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Infect Immun. 1996 Jul;64(7):2817-20.

The urease enzyme of Helicobacter pylori does not function as an adhesin.

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Department of Paediatrics, University College Dublin, Ireland.


Helicobacter pylori urease is essential for colonization of the gastric mucosa irrespective of whether the stomach is acidic or hypochlorhydric. It has therefore been speculated that the enzyme functions as an adhesin. The aim of this study was to compare the adherence of H. pylori N6 with the adherence of an isogenic urease-negative mutant, strain N6(ureB::TnKm), to gastric cells. Strain N6 originated from a patient with gastritis. Strain N6(ureB::TnKm) is specifically modified in the gene which encodes the large subunit of urease, UreB, and hence does not form a UreA-UreB enzyme complex. We have used flow cytometry to assess the adherence of H. pylori to the cells. We have also used phase-contrast microscopy to assess the adherence of the organism to Kato III cells. In the absence of urea both strains bound to Kato III cells and to primary gastric cells. Binding of both strains to the cells occurred rapidly. The presence of urea in the incubation medium decreased the binding of strain N6 to the cells. This was due to a rise in the pH of the incubation medium, which caused loss of viability of the organism. Urea had no effect on the adherence of strain N6(ureB::TnKm). We conclude that the urease of H. pylori does not play a role in the adherence of the organism to gastric cells.

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