How Helicobacter clings on to our stomach

January 14, 2016 News BioVox

The bacterium Helicobacter pylori is a known gastric pathogen and causes the bulk of peptic ulcer and gastric cancer cases. H. pylori can survive in the hostile environment of the stomach by tightly holding on to the stomach mucosa. By doing so, the pathogen avoids the highly acidic gastric juices. Using a protein called BabA, H. pylori binds to the ABO-blood group sugars also present in the gastric mucus layer and underlying cells.

VIB researchers at the VUB have now clarified the structural details of BabA and have aptly called it “a molecular chameleon”. Apparently, BabA can change its affinity for the different ABO-blood group sugars according to their prevalence in the human population. The research group, led by Han Remaut, has identified the residues that steer the protein’s binding preference.

Additionally, the investigators also revealed an important weakness of BabA: a short disulfide-bound loop, critical for adherence. This structural feature is a good target for new therapeutics, since disulfide bonds can be broken by reducing compounds such as N-acetylcystein.

Avatar photo

With a local focus and global reach, the news platform BioVox shares insights into the Benelux life sciences ecosystem with readers across the world. BioVox is an independent publisher, providing its community with quality content and first-row access to interesting breakthroughs and trends in biotech, medtech, agtech, pharma, and more. We shine a spotlight on the latest news and innovations from both our partners and community.

All posts

Subscribe to the BioVox newsletter