Molecular and cellular mechanisms of action of the vacuolating cytotoxin (VacA) and neutrophil-activating protein (HP-NAP) virulence factors of Helicobacter pylori

Microbes Infect. 2003 Jul;5(8):715-21. doi: 10.1016/s1286-4579(03)00124-2.


Helicobacter pylori has elaborated a unique set of virulence factors that allow it to colonise the stomach wall. These factors include urease, helicoidal shape, flagella and adhesion molecules. Here we discuss the molecular characteristics and mechanisms of action of the vacuolating cytotoxin, VacA, and the neutrophil-activating protein, HP-NAP. Their activities are discussed in terms of tissue alterations, which promote the release of nutrients necessary for the growth and survival of the bacterium in its nutrient-poor ecological niche.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Helicobacter Infections / microbiology*
  • Helicobacter pylori / cytology
  • Helicobacter pylori / metabolism
  • Helicobacter pylori / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Virulence Factors / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • VacA protein, Helicobacter pylori
  • Virulence Factors
  • neutrophil-activating protein A, Helicobacter pylori