The Helicobacter pylori cag pathogenicity island (cag PAI) encodes a type IV secretion system that is more commonly found in strains isolated from patients with gastroduodenal disease than from those with asymptomatic gastritis. Genome-wide organization of the transcriptional units in H. pylori strain 26695 was recently established using RNA sequence analysis (Sharma et al., 2010). Here we used quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction of open reading frames and intergenic regions to identify putative cag PAI operons in H. pylori; these operons were analyzed further by transcript profiling after deletion of selected promoter regions. Additionally, we used a promoter-trap system to identify functional cag PAI promoters. The results demonstrated that expression of genes on the H. pylori cag PAI varies by nearly five orders of magnitude and that the organization of cag PAI genes into transcriptional units is conserved among several H. pylori strains, including, 26695, J99, G27, and J166. We found evidence for 20 transcripts within the cag PAI, many of which likely overlap. Our data suggests that there are at least 11 operons: cag1-4, cag3-4, cag10-9, cag8-7, cag6-5, cag11-12, cag16-17, cag19-18, cag21-20, cag23-22, and cag25-24, as well as five monocistronic genes (cag4, cag13, cag14, cag15, and cag26). Additionally, the location of four of our functionally identified promoters suggests they are directing expression of, in one case, a truncated version of cag26 and in the other three, transcripts that are antisense to cag7, cag17, and cag23. We verified expression of two of these antisense transcripts, those antisense to cag17 and cag23, by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction. Taken together, our results suggest that the cag PAI transcriptional profile is generally conserved among H. pylori strains, 26695, J99, G27, and J166, and is likely complex.
Original Publication Title
Frontiers In Cellular And Infection Microbiology
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Ta, Linda H.; Hansen, Lori M.; Sause, William E.; Shiva, Olga; Millstein, Aram; Ottemann, Karen M.; Castillo, Andrea; and Solnick, Jay V., "Conserved Transcriptional Unit Organization Of The Cag Pathogenicity Island Among Helicobacter Pylori Strains" (2012). Biology Faculty Publications. Paper 2.