Structural definition on the surface of Helicobacter pylori type IV secretion apparatus

Cell Microbiol. 2003 Jun;5(6):395-404. doi: 10.1046/j.1462-5822.2003.00286.x.


Genetic and functional studies have indicated that the type IV secretion system (TFSS) of Helicobacter pylori forms a secretion complex in the cell envelope that protrudes towards the outside in order to inject CagA protein into gastric epithelial cells. However, the proposed structural model is based on partial amino acid homology with the components of the Agrobacterium tumefaciens TFSS. Therefore, we undertook the identification of the structural features of the TFSS exposed on the surface of H. pylori and found that filamentous structures present on the bacterial surface are related to the secretion apparatus. Using immunofluorescence microscopy with antibodies directed to tyrosine-phosphorylated CagA (pY-CagA) and Hp0532 (VirB7) in the infection assay, pY-CagA signals were detected just below the host cell-attached bacteria, where Hp0532 (VirB7) signals were detected as co-localized, suggesting that the CagA injected into the host cell through the TFSS apparatus is still mostly confined to the areas just below the attached bacteria after being phosphorylated. Furthermore, the filamentous structures on bacterium were found to be associated with Hp0532 (VirB7) or Hp0528 (VirB9), the major components of TFSS, by immunogold electron microscopy. These results strongly suggest that the H. pylori TFSS apparatus is a filamentous macromolecular structure protruding from the bacterial envelope.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Bacterial / analysis
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / analysis*
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / analysis
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Helicobacter Infections / microbiology
  • Helicobacter pylori / chemistry*
  • Helicobacter pylori / cytology
  • Helicobacter pylori / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron / methods
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutation
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Transport
  • Tyrosine / metabolism


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • cagA protein, Helicobacter pylori
  • Tyrosine