Random mutagenesis to identify novel Helicobacter mustelae virulence factors
Helicobacter mustelae is a gastric pathogen of ferrets, where it causes disorders similar to those caused by Helicobacter pylori in humans. The H. mustelae ferret model therefore has potential for the in vivo study of Helicobacter pathogenesis in general. In this study a library of 500 individual H. mustelae mutants was generated using an in vitro random insertion mutagenesis technique. Mutants were subsequently tested for motility and adherence, and 43 of the 500 mutants tested were found to be nonmotile in a soft agar assay. Of these 43 mutants, seven were subsequently identified as deficient in their ability to adhere to AGS cells. Insertion had taken place in different positions in the H. mustelae genome, and included mutants in or near to genes involved in motility and urease activity (e.g. the chemotaxis gene cheV and the urease accessory gene ureH). The development of a mutant library for a natural animal model of Helicobacter infection provides the opportunity to study in vivo the role of candidate Helicobacter virulence genes.