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Helicobacter pylori and Campylobacter jejuni colonize the stomach and intestinal mucus, respectively. Using a combination of mucus-secreting cells, purified mucins, and a novel mucin microarray platform, we examined the interactions of these two organisms with mucus and mucins. H. pylori and C. jejuni bound to distinctly different mucins. C. jejuni displayed a striking tropism for chicken gastrointestinal mucins compared to mucins from other animals and preferentially bound mucins from specific avian intestinal sites (in order of descending preference: the large intestine, proximal small intestine, and cecum). H. pylori bound to a number of animal mucins, including porcine stomach mucin, but with less avidity than that of C. jejuni for chicken mucin. The strengths of interaction of various wild-type strains of H. pylori with different animal mucins were comparable, even though they did not all express the same adhesins. The production of mucus by HT29-MTX-E12 cells promoted higher levels of infection by C. jejuni and H. pylori than those for the non-mucus-producing parental cell lines. Both C. jejuni and H. pylori bound to HT29-MTX-E12 mucus, and while both organisms bound to glycosylated epitopes in the glycolipid fraction of the mucus, only C. jejuni bound to purified mucin. This study highlights the role of mucus in promoting bacterial infection and emphasizes the potential for even closely related bacteria to interact with mucus in different ways to establish successful infections.
Naughton, J. et al: Divergent Mechanisms of Interaction of Helicobacter Pylori and Campylobacter Jejuni with Mucus and Mucins. Infection and Immunity, vol. 81(8) p.2838-50. doi:10.1128/IAI.00415-13