Characterization of Helicobacter pylori AutoInducer-2 Binding Proteins Involved in Chemorepulsion and Biofilm Dispersal
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Helicobacter pylori is a human pathogen that colonizes the stomach and increases the risk of diseases such as ulcers and gastric cancer. The distribution of H. pylori within the stomach is associated with different disease outcomes, with more dispersed colonization correlated with gastric cancer. The focus of this research is to study the chemotactic responses that promote dispersal of H. pylori within the stomach. We have shown previously that H. pylori perceive the quorum signal autoinducer-2 (AI-2) as a chemorepellent. We report that H. pylori chemorepulsion from endogenous AI-2 influences the proportion and spatial organization of cells within biofilms. Strains that fail to produce AI-2 (∆luxS) or are defective for chemotaxis (∆cheA) formed more spatially homogenous biofilms with a greater proportion of adherent versus planktonic cells than wildtype biofilms. Reciprocally, a strain that overproduced AI-2 (luxSOP) formed biofilms with proportionally fewer adherent cells. Along with the known AI-2 chemoreceptor, TlpB, we identified and characterized two novel periplasmic binding proteins, AibA and AibB, that independently both bind AI-2 and are required for the AI-2 chemorepulsion response. Disruptions in any of the proteins required for AI-2 chemotaxis recapitulated the biofilm adherence and spatial organization phenotype of the ∆luxS mutant. Furthermore, exogenously administered AI-2 was sufficient to decrease the proportion of adherent cells in biofilms and promote dispersal of cells from biofilms in a chemotaxis dependent manner. Finally, we found that disruption of AI-2 production or AI-2 chemotaxis resulted in increased clustering of cells in microcolonies on cultured epithelial cells. We conclude that chemotaxis from AI-2 is a determinant of H. pylori biofilm spatial organization and dispersal and may play an important role in H. pylori colonization of the stomach by promoting dispersal away from areas of high cell density, thereby modulating the disease spectrum of the host. This dissertation contains previously unpublished co-authored material.