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Beware of this stomach opportunist - Helicobacter pylori

Gut microbiota is diverse and there are various inhabitants, some harmful and some useful in your stomach. The load of microbiota increases along the gastrointestinal tract, very in the stomach and the highest numbers in the intestine ie, colon. One major bacteria present is Helicobacter pylori

Helicobacter pylori is an opportunistic bacteria that enters your body and lives in your digestive tract. This bacteria causes ulcers in the lining of your stomach due to stress, spicy food, smoking and other lifestyle habits and also from utensils, water and when the sewage is not cleaned properly . These ulcers are rather common, and infection is present in about two-third of the world's population. Although most of the infections are affected in childhood, it is seen in adults to When the stomach ulcers get chronic, causing inflammation, they lead to gastric cancer or stomach cancer. H.pylori is the strongest risk factor for this second largest cancer- related deaths worldwide.

In an interesting new research done by LMU's Max von Pettenkofer Institute in collaboration with Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin they have seen the diversification of H.pylori in early stages of adult infection. This was checked by taking rare sample sets of adults infected with H.pylori, after 10 weeks samples were isolated from two different regions of stomach, and then the adults were treated with antibiotics to remove the pathogen.

A comparison was done with the volunteers infected 3 months earlier through complete genome sequence and real time sequencing methods (SMRT) using single cell-isolates (single cells obtained from a suspension of cells). The outcome was shocking where the bacterial genome in a short span of time had undergone a significant amount of diversification. Mostly this mutation or diversification was seen due to the interactions between host cells and the bacteria.

This shows that there are specific genes that are selected to allow the bacteria to use the metabolites present in the lining of the stomach, and even there were a variety of changes at epigenetic level. The polypeptides that are expressed on the cell wall and some transport proteins of the outer membrane are seen modified.

The authors Sebastian Suerbaum and Christine Josenhans who lead this work in LMU's Max von Pettenkofer Institute identified 24 enzyme systems that attach methyl groups to specific DNA sequences, and some may also work as expression for sets of genes in the bacteria. All these results support the alterations occurring during weeks or months after the primary infection, showing that the bacteria is adapting to the host environment and this can lead to further unaltered complications and we must focus on understanding and finding a cure to this bacteria and its disorder.

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