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Positive selection of mutations in the Helicobacter pylori katA 5′ untranslated region in a Mongolian Gerbil Model of gastric disease

Loh, J.T., Shuman, J.H.B., Lin, A.S., Favret, N., Piazuelo, M.B., Mallal, S., Chopra, A., McClain, M.S., Cover, T.L. and Brodsky, I.E. (2022) Positive selection of mutations in the Helicobacter pylori katA 5′ untranslated region in a Mongolian Gerbil Model of gastric disease. Infection and Immunity, 90 (7). Art. e0000422.

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To evaluate potential effects of gastric inflammation on Helicobacter pylori diversification and evolution within the stomach, we experimentally infected Mongolian gerbils with an H. pylori strain in which Cag type IV secretion system (T4SS) activity is controlled by a TetR/tetO system. Gerbils infected with H. pylori under conditions in which Cag T4SS activity was derepressed had significantly higher levels of gastric inflammation than gerbils infected under conditions with repressed Cag T4SS activity. Mutations in the 5′ untranslated region (UTR) of katA (encoding catalase) were detected in strains cultured from 8 of the 17 gerbils infected with Cag T4SS-active H. pylori and none of the strains from 17 gerbils infected with Cag T4SS-inactive H. pylori. Catalase enzymatic activity, steady-state katA transcript levels, and katA transcript stability were increased in strains with these single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) compared to strains in which these SNPs were absent. Moreover, strains harboring these SNPs exhibited increased resistance to bactericidal effects of hydrogen peroxide, compared to control strains. Experimental introduction of the SNPs into the wild-type katA 5′ UTR resulted in increased katA transcript stability, increased katA steady-state levels, and increased catalase enzymatic activity. Based on site-directed mutagenesis and modeling of RNA structure, increased katA transcript levels were correlated with higher predicted thermal stability of the katA 5′ UTR secondary structure. These data suggest that high levels of gastric inflammation positively select for H. pylori strains producing increased levels of catalase, which may confer survival advantages to the bacteria in an inflammatory gastric environment.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Institute for Immunology and Infectious Diseases
Publisher: American Society for Microbiology
Copyright: © 2022 American Society for Microbiology
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