Cluster of type IV secretion genes in Helicobacter pylori's plasticity zone

Dangeruta Kersulyte, Billie Velapatiño, Asish K. Mukhopadhyay, Lizbeth Cahuayme, Alejandro Bussalleu, Juan Combe, Robert H. Gilman, Douglas E. Berg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Some genes present in only certain strains of the genetically diverse gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori may affect its phenotype and/or evolutionary potential. Here we describe a new 16.3-kb segment, 7 of whose 16 open reading frames are homologs of type IV secretion genes (virB4, virB7 to virB11, and virD4), the third such putative secretion gene cluster found in H. pylori. This segment, to be called tfs3, was discovered by subtractive hybridization and chromosome walking. Full-length and truncated tfs3 elements were found in 20 and 19%, respectively, of 94 strains tested, which were from Spain, Peru, India, and Japan. A tfs3 remnant (6 kb) was found in an archived stock of reference strain J99, although it was not included in this strain's published genome sequence. PCR and DNA sequence analyses indicated the following. (i) tfs3's ends are conserved. (ii) Right-end insertion occurred at one specific site in a chromosomal region that is varied in gene content and arrangement, the "plasticity zone." (iii) Left-end insertion occurred at different sites in each of nine strains studied. (iv) Sequences next to the right-end target in tfs3-free strains were absent from most strains carrying full-length tfs3 elements. These patterns suggested insertion by a transposition-like event, but one in which targets are chosen with little or no specificity at the left end and high specificity at the right end, thereby deleting the intervening DNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3764-3772
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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