The small GTP binding protein rab7 is essential for cellular vacuolation induced by Helicobacter pylori cytotoxin

EMBO J. 1997 Jan 2;16(1):15-24. doi: 10.1093/emboj/16.1.15.


The VacA cytotoxin, produced by toxigenic strains of Helicobacter pylori, induces the formation of large vacuoles highly enriched in the small GTPase rab7. To probe the role of rab7 in vacuolization, HeLa cells were transfected with a series of rab mutants and exposed to VacA. Dominant-negative mutants of rab7 effectively prevented vacuolization, whereas homologous rab5 and rab9 mutants were only partially inhibitory or ineffective, respectively. Expression of wild-type or GTPase-deficient rab mutants synergized with VacA in inducing vacuolization. In vitro fusion of late endosomes was enhanced by active rab7 and inhibited by inactive rab7, consistent with vacuole formation by merging of late endosomes in a process that requires functional rab7. Taken together, the effects of overexpressed rab proteins described here indicate that continuous membrane flow along the endocytic pathway is necessary for vacuole growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / toxicity*
  • Bacterial Toxins / toxicity*
  • Cytotoxins / toxicity*
  • Endocytosis
  • Endosomes / metabolism
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / genetics
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / physiology
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Helicobacter pylori / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Fusion
  • Mutation
  • Transfection
  • Vacuoles / metabolism*
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins*
  • rab5 GTP-Binding Proteins


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Cytotoxins
  • VacA protein, Helicobacter pylori
  • rab7 protein
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • GTP-Binding Proteins
  • RAB9A protein, human
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins
  • rab5 GTP-Binding Proteins