Characteristics of Helicobacter pylori variants selected for urease deficiency.

Pérez-Pérez GI, Olivares AZ, Cover TL, Blaser MJ
Infect Immun. 1992 60 (9): 3658-63

PMID: 1500174 · PMCID: PMC257374

The urease of Helicobacter pylori is suspected to play a role in the pathogenesis of gastritis. Although all clinical isolates of H. pylori are urease positive (U+), we have selected and characterized several spontaneously arising urease-negative (U-) variants from wild-type strain 60190. Urease-negative variants were identified by growth in medium containing 60 mM urea and arose at a frequency of 10(-5) to 10(-6). The urease activity of the wild-type strain inhibited growth of this strain in the presence of 60 mM urea. U- variants retained the U- phenotype for more than 100 passages on medium with or without urea. The urease activities of the original U+ and derived U- cells were 9.55 to 16.7 and 0.01 to 0.17 U/mg of protein, respectively. Colonial growth and other biochemical characteristics were identical for the strains. U- variants showed three classes of whole-cell sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis profiles: (i) identical to U+; (ii) change in the migration of the 61-kDa urease subunit; and (iii) lack of 61- and 30-kDa subunits. These differences were confirmed by immunoblotting and by protein separation using fast protein liquid chromatography. The U+ strain but not U- variants tolerated exposure to pH 4.0 for 60 min in the presence of urea. Supernatants of the U+ strain and U- variants contained vacuolating cytotoxin activity for HeLa cells in similar titers. By enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, human serum samples recognized water extract from the U+ strain significantly better than extract from a U- variant lacking urease subunits. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that U- H. pylori variants may arise spontaneously, that urease activity enhances survival at acid pH, and that urease and cytotoxin activities are disparate phenotypes.

MeSH Terms (8)

Bacterial Proteins Cytotoxins HeLa Cells Helicobacter pylori Humans Hydrogen-Ion Concentration Urease Vacuoles

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