DOI: 10.1128/iai.00150-23 ISSN:

Role of the CagY antenna projection in Helicobacter pylori Cag type IV secretion system activity

Sirena C. Tran, Mark S. McClain, Timothy L. Cover
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology
  • Parasitology


Helicobacter pylori strains containing the cag pathogenicity island (PAI) are associated with the development of gastric adenocarcinoma and peptic ulcer disease. The cag PAI encodes a secreted effector protein (CagA) and a type IV secretion system (Cag T4SS). Cag T4SS activity is required for the delivery of CagA and non-protein substrates into host cells. The Cag T4SS outer membrane core complex (OMCC) contains a channel-like domain formed by helix-loop-helix elements (antenna projections, AP) from 14 copies of the CagY protein (a VirB10 ortholog). Similar VirB10 antenna regions are present in T4SS OMCCs from multiple bacterial species and are predicted to span the outer membrane. In this study, we investigated the role of the CagY antenna region in Cag T4SS OMCC assembly and Cag T4SS function. An H. pylori mutant strain with deletion of the entire CagY AP (∆AP) retained the capacity to produce CagY and assemble an OMCC, but it lacked T4SS activity (CagA translocation and IL-8 induction in AGS gastric epithelial cells). In contrast, a mutant strain with Gly-Ser substitutions in the unstructured CagY AP loop retained Cag T4SS activity. Mutants containing CagY AP loops with shortened lengths were defective in CagA translocation and exhibited reduced IL-8-inducing activity compared to control strains. These data indicate that the CagY AP region is required for Cag T4SS activity and that Cag T4SS activity can be modulated by altering the length of the CagY AP unstructured loop.

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