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Lipid profiles of Helicobacter pylori colony variants

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A phase variation in Helicobacter pylori has been previously described. In one phase the bacterium had a cell wall lipid content typical for gram-negative bacteria (HpL ), whereas in the other phase the bacterium was found to have a cell wall with increased amounts of lysophospholipids (HpS ). The conversion is spontaneous, but could also be induced by acid (HpSind ) and was associated with in vitro release of Vac A and urease. The purpose of the present study was to determine the full phospholipid content of the cell wall to indicate a molecular mechanism of the colony variation. There were no appreciable differences between the lipid profiles of HpS and HpSind , while there were major differences between HpL and the S -variant. In the S -variant, lysophospholipids constituted about 50% of the total phospholipids, as compared to less than 2% in the L -variant. The proportion of total and individual cholesteryl glucosides also showed considerable changes. HpL was dominated by the phosphate-linked cholesteryl glucoside (72%) while the acylated cholesteryl glucoside was the main cholesteryl glucoside of the S -variant (65%). Our results demonstrate a dramatic change in cell wall properties after acid induction and spontaneously in vitro, and suggest some molecular mechanisms for this variation from an in vitro non-virulent to a virulent variant.
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Keywords: Cholesteryl glucosides; Helicobacter pylori; colony variation; lysophospholipids; pathogenesis

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute for Nutrition Research, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway 2: Institute of Microbiology, National Hospital, and

Publication date: 2000-05-01

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