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      The Helicobacter pylori chemotaxis receptor TlpB (HP0103) is required for pH taxis and for colonization of the gastric mucosa.

      Journal of Bacteriology

      Animals, Bacterial Proteins, chemistry, genetics, metabolism, Chemotaxis, physiology, Gastric Mucosa, microbiology, Gene Deletion, Helicobacter Infections, Helicobacter pylori, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, Interleukin-12, Mice, Mice, Knockout, Mutation

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          The location of Helicobacter pylori in the gastric mucosa of mammals is defined by natural pH gradients within the gastric mucus, which are more alkaline proximal to the mucosal epithelial cells and more acidic toward the lumen. We have used a microscope slide-based pH gradient assay and video data collection system to document pH-tactic behavior. In response to hydrochloric acid (HCl), H. pylori changes its swimming pattern from straight-line random swimming to arcing or circular patterns that move the motile population away from the strong acid. Bacteria in more-alkaline regions did not swim toward the acid, suggesting the pH taxis is a form of negative chemotaxis. To identify the chemoreceptor(s) responsible for the transduction of pH-tactic signals, a vector-free allelic replacement strategy was used to construct mutations in each of the four annotated chemoreceptor genes (tlpA, tlpB, tlpC, and tlpD) in H. pylori strain SS1 and a motile variant of strain KE26695. All deletion mutants were motile and displayed normal chemotaxis in brucella soft agar, but only tlpB mutants were defective for pH taxis. tlpD mutants exhibited more tumbling and arcing swimming, while tlpC mutants were hypermotile and responsive to acid. While tlpA, tlpC, and tlpD mutants colonized mice to near wild-type levels, tlpB mutants were defective for colonization of highly permissive C57BL/6 interleukin-12 (IL-12) (p40-/-)-deficient mice. Complementation of the tlpB mutant (tlpB expressed from the rdxA locus) restored pH taxis and infectivity for mice. pH taxis, like motility and urease activity, is essential for colonization and persistence in the gastric mucosa, and thus TlpB function might represent a novel target in the development of therapeutics that blind tactic behavior.

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