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Concept: Helicobacter pylori


Blowflies and houseflies are mechanical vectors inhabiting synanthropic environments around the world. They feed and breed in fecal and decaying organic matter, but the microbiome they harbour and transport is largely uncharacterized. We sampled 116 individual houseflies and blowflies from varying habitats on three continents and subjected them to high-coverage, whole-genome shotgun sequencing. This allowed for genomic and metagenomic analyses of the host-associated microbiome at the species level. Both fly host species segregate based on principal coordinate analysis of their microbial communities, but they also show an overlapping core microbiome. Legs and wings displayed the largest microbial diversity and were shown to be an important route for microbial dispersion. The environmental sequencing approach presented here detected a stochastic distribution of human pathogens, such as Helicobacter pylori, thereby demonstrating the potential of flies as proxies for environmental and public health surveillance.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Bacteria, Molecular biology, Human Genome Project, Microbiology, Helicobacter pylori, Helicobacter, Shotgun sequencing


For the last 500 years, the Americas have been a melting pot both for genetically diverse humans and for the pathogenic and commensal organisms associated with them. One such organism is the stomach-dwelling bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which is highly prevalent in Latin America where it is a major current public health challenge because of its strong association with gastric cancer. By analyzing the genome sequence of H. pylori isolated in North, Central and South America, we found evidence for admixture between H. pylori of European and African origin throughout the Americas, without substantial input from pre-Columbian (hspAmerind) bacteria. In the US, strains of African and European origin have remained genetically distinct, while in Colombia and Nicaragua, bottlenecks and rampant genetic exchange amongst isolates have led to the formation of national gene pools. We found three outer membrane proteins with atypical levels of Asian ancestry in American strains, as well as alleles that were nearly fixed specifically in South American isolates, suggesting a role for the ethnic makeup of hosts in the colonization of incoming strains. Our results show that new H. pylori subpopulations can rapidly arise, spread and adapt during times of demographic flux, and suggest that differences in transmission ecology between high and low prevalence areas may substantially affect the composition of bacterial populations.

Concepts: Gene, Bacteria, United States, Helicobacter pylori, North America, South America, Americas, Indigenous peoples of the Americas


Vitamin B12 is one of the essential vitamins affecting various systems of the body. Reports of psychiatric disorders due to its deficiency mostly focus on middle aged and elderly patients. Here we report a case of vitamin B 12 deficiency in a 16-year old, male adolescent who presented with mixed mood disorder symptoms with psychotic features. Chief complaints were “irritability, regressive behavior, apathy, crying and truancy” which lasted for a year. Premorbid personality was unremarkable with no substance use/exposure or infections. No stressors were present. The patient was not vegetarian. Past medical history and family history was normal. Neurological examination revealed glossitis, ataxia, rigidity in both shoulders, cog-wheel rigidity in the left elbow, bilateral problems of coordination in cerebellar examination, reduced swinging of the arms and masked face. Romberg’s sign was present. Laboratory evaluations were normal. Endoscopy and biopsy revealed atrophy of the gastric mucosa with Helicobacter Pylori colonization. Schilling test was suggestive of malabsorbtion. He was diagnosed with Mood disorder with Mixed, Psychotic Features due to Vitamin B12 Deficiency and risperidone 0.5 mg/day and intramuscular vitamin B12 500 mcg/day were started along with referral for treatment of Helicobacter pylori. A visit on the second week revealed no psychotic features. Romberg’s sign was negative and cerebellar tests were normal. Extrapyramidal symptoms were reduced while Vitamin B12 levels were elevated. Risperidone was stopped and parenteral Vitamin B12 treatment was continued with monthly injections for 3 months. Follow-up endoscopy and biopsy at the first month demonstrated eradication of H. pylori. He was followed monthly for another 6 months and psychiatric symptoms did not recur at the time of last evaluation. Despite limitations, this case may underline the observation that mood disorders with psychotic features especially with accompanying extrapyramidal symptoms lacking a clear etiology may be rare manifestation of vitamin B12 and/or folate deficiency in children and adolescents and be potentially amenable to treatment.

Concepts: Vitamin, Ataxia, Helicobacter pylori, Folic acid, Megaloblastic anemia, Vitamin B12, B vitamins, Vitamin B12 deficiency


Chronic inflammation plays a causal role in gastric tumor initiation. The identification of predictive biomarkers from gastric inflammation to tumorigenesis will help us to distinguish gastric cancer from atrophic gastritis and establish the diagnosis of early-stage gastric cancer. Phospholipase C epsilon 1 (PLCε1) is reported to play a vital role in inflammation and tumorigenesis. This study was aimed to investigate the clinical significance of PLCε1 in the initiation and progression of gastric cancer.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Stomach, Helicobacter pylori, Gastritis, Intrinsic factor, Pernicious anemia, Atrophic gastritis


There is increasing evidence from clinical and population studies for a role of H. pylori infection in the aetiology of iron deficiency. Rodent models of Helicobacter infection are helpful for investigating any causal links and mechanisms of iron deficiency in the host. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of gastric Helicobacter infection on iron deficiency and host iron metabolism/transport gene expression in hypergastrinemic INS-GAS mice. INS-GAS mice were infected with Helicobacter felis for 3, 6 and 9 months. At post mortem, blood was taken for assessment of iron status and gastric mucosa for pathology, immunohistology and analysis of gene expression. Chronic Helicobacter infection of INS- GAS mice resulted in decreased serum iron, transferrin saturation and hypoferritinemia and increased Total iron binding capacity (TIBC). Decreased serum iron concentrations were associated with a concomitant reduction in the number of parietal cells, strengthening the association between hypochlorhydria and gastric Helicobacter-induced iron deficiency. Infection with H. felis for nine months was associated with decreased gastric expression of iron metabolism regulators hepcidin, Bmp4 and Bmp6 but increased expression of Ferroportin 1, the iron efflux protein, iron absorption genes such as Divalent metal transporter 1, Transferrin receptor 1 and also Lcn2 a siderophore-binding protein. The INS-GAS mouse is therefore a useful model for studying Helicobacter-induced iron deficiency. Furthermore, the marked changes in expression of gastric iron transporters following Helicobacter infection may be relevant to the more rapid development of carcinogenesis in the Helicobacter infected INS-GAS model.

Concepts: Gene, Helicobacter pylori, Transferrin, Human iron metabolism, Transferrin saturation, Serum iron, Iron metabolism, Total iron-binding capacity


Reducing the amount of Helicobacter pylori in the stomach by selective bacterial-bacterial cell interaction was sought as an effective and novel method for combating the stomach pathogen. Lactobacillus reuteri DSM17648 was identified as a highly specific binding antagonist to H. pylori among more than 700 wild-type strains of Lactobacillus species. Applying a stringent screening procedure, the strain DSM17648 was identified as selective binder to H. pylori cells under in vivo gastric conditions. The strain DSM17648 co-aggregates the pathogen in vivo and in vitro. The specific co-aggregation occurs between Lact. reuteri DSM17648 and different H. pylori strains and serotypes, as well as H. heilmannii, but not with Campylobacter jejuni or other commensal oral and intestinal bacteria. Lact. reuteri DSM17648 was shown in a proof-of-concept single-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study to significantly reduce the load of H. pylori in healthy yet infected adults. Reducing the amount of H. pylori in the stomach by selective bacterial-bacterial cell interaction might be an effective and novel method for combating the stomach pathogen. Lact. reuteri DSM17648 might prove useful as an adhesion blocker in antibiotic-free H. pylori therapies.

Concepts: Bacteria, Gut flora, Microbiology, Stomach, Helicobacter pylori, Proteobacteria, Peptic ulcer, Lactobacillus


Whole genome sequencing is becoming a leading technology in typing and epidemiology of microbial pathogens, but the increase in genomics information necessitates significant investment in bioinformatic resources and expertise, and currently used methodologies struggle with genetically heterogeneous bacteria such as the human gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori. Here we demonstrate that the alignment-free analysis method Feature Frequency Profiling (FFP) can be used to rapidly construct phylogenetic trees of draft bacterial genome sequences on a standard desktop computer, and that the coupling with in silico genotyping methods gives useful information for comparative and clinical genomics and molecular epidemiology applications. FFP-phylogenetic trees of seven gastric Helicobacter species matched those obtained by analysis of 16S rDNA and ribosomal proteins, and FFP- and core genome single nucleotide polymorphism-based analysis of 63 H. pylori genomes showed again comparable phylogenetic clustering, consistent with genomotypes assigned using multi-locus sequence typing (MLST). Analysis of 377 H. pylori genomes highlighted conservation of genomotypes and linkage with phylogeographic characteristics, and predicted the presence of an incomplete or non-functional cag pathogenicity island in 18/276 genomes. In silico analysis of antibiotic susceptibility markers suggests that most H. pylori hspAmerind and hspEAsia isolates are predicted to carry the T2812C mutation conferring low level clarithromycin-resistance, while levels of metronidazole resistance were similar in all MLST-types. In conclusion, the use of FFP phylogenetic clustering and in silico genotyping allows determination of genome evolution and phylogeographic clustering, and can contribute to clinical microbiology by genomotyping for outbreak management, and the prediction of pathogenic potential and antibiotic susceptibility.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Bacteria, Microbiology, Genome, RNA, Helicobacter pylori


Bacteria utilize complex type IV secretion systems (T4SSs) to translocate diverse effector proteins or DNA into target cells. Despite the importance of T4SSs in bacterial pathogenesis, the mechanism by which these translocation machineries deliver cargo across the bacterial envelope remains poorly understood, and very few studies have investigated the use of synthetic molecules to disrupt T4SS-mediated transport. Here, we describe two synthetic small molecules (C10 and KSK85) that disrupt T4SS-dependent processes in multiple bacterial pathogens. Helicobacter pylori exploits a pilus appendage associated with the cag T4SS to inject an oncogenic effector protein (CagA) and peptidoglycan into gastric epithelial cells. In H. pylori, KSK85 impedes biogenesis of the pilus appendage associated with the cag T4SS, while C10 disrupts cag T4SS activity without perturbing pilus assembly. In addition to the effects in H. pylori, we demonstrate that these compounds disrupt interbacterial DNA transfer by conjugative T4SSs in Escherichia coli and impede vir T4SS-mediated DNA delivery by Agrobacterium tumefaciens in a plant model of infection. Of note, C10 effectively disarmed dissemination of a derepressed IncF plasmid into a recipient bacterial population, thus demonstrating the potential of these compounds in mitigating the spread of antibiotic resistance determinants driven by conjugation. To our knowledge, this study is the first report of synthetic small molecules that impair delivery of both effector protein and DNA cargos by diverse T4SSs.

Concepts: Cell, Bacteria, Microbiology, Secretion, Escherichia coli, Plasmid, Helicobacter pylori, Bacterial conjugation


The stomach bacterium Helicobacter pylori is one of the most prevalent human pathogens. It has dispersed globally with its human host, resulting in a distinct phylogeographic pattern that can be used to reconstruct both recent and ancient human migrations. The extant European population of H. pylori is known to be a hybrid between Asian and African bacteria, but there exist different hypotheses about when and where the hybridization took place, reflecting the complex demographic history of Europeans. Here, we present a 5300-year-old H. pylori genome from a European Copper Age glacier mummy. The “Iceman” H. pylori is a nearly pure representative of the bacterial population of Asian origin that existed in Europe before hybridization, suggesting that the African population arrived in Europe within the past few thousand years.

Concepts: Bacteria, Africa, Pathogen, Stomach, Europe, Helicobacter pylori, Proteobacteria, Helicobacter


Advances in bioinspired design principles and nanomaterials have led to tremendous progress in autonomously moving synthetic nano/micromotors with diverse functionalities in different environments. However, a significant gap remains in moving nano/micromotors from test tubes to living organisms for treating diseases with high efficacy. Here we present the first, to our knowledge, in vivo therapeutic micromotors application for active drug delivery to treat gastric bacterial infection in a mouse model using clarithromycin as a model antibiotic and Helicobacter pylori infection as a model disease. The propulsion of drug-loaded magnesium micromotors in gastric media enables effective antibiotic delivery, leading to significant bacteria burden reduction in the mouse stomach compared with passive drug carriers, with no apparent toxicity. Moreover, while the drug-loaded micromotors reach similar therapeutic efficacy as the positive control of free drug plus proton pump inhibitor, the micromotors can function without proton pump inhibitors because of their built-in proton depletion function associated with their locomotion.Nano- and micromotors have been demonstrated in vitro for a range of applications. Here the authors demonstrate the in-vivo therapeutic use of micromotors to treat H. pylori infection.

Concepts: Bacteria, In vivo, Gastroenterology, Stomach, Efficacy, Helicobacter pylori, Peptic ulcer, Gastritis