Infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori are one of the most common causes of gastric ulcers and gastric cancer. The mechanism by which the bacterium is involved in the development of the diseases has not been clear so far. Here scientists have now succeeded in two independent work, the identification of a pair of molecules that has a significant impact on the pathological effect of the bacterium. The researchers hope that their results will enable better treatment and prevention in the future.
The scientists of the Ludwig Maximillians University( LMU) in Munich, the Technical University of Munich( TUM) and the University Hospital Essen were able to decode in their current studies "the crucial molecules and processes" of Helicobacter infection and thus show new treatment optionsthe communication from the German Center for Infection Research( DZIF).DZIF researchers were instrumental in both studies. The work was published in the journal "Nature Microbiology".
Helicobacter pylori is often the cause of stomach ulcers and stomach cancer
Helicobacter pylori infections are in many cases triggers the development of gastric ulcers and gastric cancer."The chronic Helicobacter infection of the epithelial cells of the gastric mucosa is considered an important risk factor for gastric cancer," reports the DZIF.Every year around 750,000 new gastric cancers are reported worldwide. Which mechanism in Helicobacter infection promotes the development of gastric ulcers and gastric cancer has remained unclear.
Hitherto unknown pair of molecules discovered
To better understand the mechanisms of Helicobacter infection, researchers led by Prof. Rainer Haas from the Max von Pettenkofer Institute of LMU, Professor Markus Gerhard from the Institute for Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Hygiene of TUM and Dr, Bernhard B. Singer of the University of Duisburg-Essen, which receptors are involved in the binding between bacteria and host cell. The researchers were able to identify previously unknown receptors on the surface of the epithelial cells( so-called CEACAMs), to which the bacteria dock. Also they could determine the counterpart on the bacterial side - the protein HopQ.
Lethal molecular poison
The researchers also found that the discovered pair of molecules "is not only responsible for binding the bacteria to theirsHost cells important( is), but also for the pathogenic effect of bacteria, "according to the DZIF.Actual disease trigger is the bacterial protein CagA, which is injected by particularly pathogenic H. pylori strains via a needle-like extension in the epithelial cells of the gastric mucosa. The "molecular lethal injection" forms the basis for the dreaded effect of the bacteria. The molecular injection system becomes active only through the binding of the bacterial protein to the proteins of the epithelial cells.
New possibilities for prevention and therapy?
Based on the discovered mechanism, researchers may see new therapeutic options in the future. Prof. Gerhard assumes that the bacterial molecule HopQ can be used diagnostically and therapeutically. With a soluble variant of HopQ or parts of the protein could possibly prevent the binding of the bacterium to the stomach cells and thus leverage the process of disease development."Specific inhibitors of the HopQ-CEACAM interaction could either completely prevent an infection or prevent CagA injection," emphasizes Prof. Haas in a press release from the LMU on the research results.