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pathogenicity island (PAI) is reported to be a major virulence factor
of Helicobacter pylori.
AIM—To characterise cagA and the cag PAI in Japanese H pylori strains.
METHODS—H pylori isolates from Japanese patients were evaluated for CagA by immunoblot, for cagA transcription by northern blot, and for cagA and 13 other cag PAI genes by Southern blot. cagA negative strains from Western countries were also studied. Induction of interleukin-8 secretion from gastric epithelial cells was also investigated.
RESULTS—All Japanese strains retained cagA. Fifty nine of 63 (94%) strains had all the cag PAI genes. In the remaining four, cag PAI was partially deleted, lacking cagA transcripts and not producing CagA protein. Details of the PAI of these strains were checked; three lacked cagB to cagQ (cagI) and continuously cagS to cag13 (cagII), and the remaining one lacked cagB to cag8. Western cagA negative strains completely lacked cag PAI including cagA. Nucleotide sequence analysis in one strain in which the cag PAI was partially deleted showed that the partial deletion contained 25 kb of cag PAI and the cagA promoter. Interleukin-8 induction was lower with the cag PAI partial deletion strains than with the intact ones. All Japanese cag PAI deleted strains were derived from patients with non-ulcer dyspepsia, whereas 41of 59 (70%) CagA-producing strains were from patients with peptic ulcers or gastric cancer (p<0.05).
CONCLUSIONS—Most Japanese H pylori strains had the intact cag PAI. However, some lacked most of the cag PAI in spite of the presence of cagA. Thus the presence of the cagA gene is not an invariable marker of cag PAI related virulence in Japanese strains.
Keywords: Helicobacter pylori; pathogenicity island; Japanese