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Open Access Research article

Comparative Genomics of Helicobacter pylori and the human-derived Helicobacter bizzozeronii CIII-1 strain reveal the molecular basis of the zoonotic nature of non-pylori gastric Helicobacter infections in humans

Thomas Schott, Pradeep K Kondadi, Marja-Liisa Hänninen and Mirko Rossi*

Author Affiliations

Department of Food Hygiene and Environmental Health (DFHEH), Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 66, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland

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BMC Genomics 2011, 12:534  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-534

Published: 31 October 2011



The canine Gram-negative Helicobacter bizzozeronii is one of seven species in Helicobacter heilmannii sensu lato that are detected in 0.17-2.3% of the gastric biopsies of human patients with gastric symptoms. At the present, H. bizzozeronii is the only non-pylori gastric Helicobacter sp. cultivated from human patients and is therefore a good alternative model of human gastric Helicobacter disease. We recently sequenced the genome of the H. bizzozeronii human strain CIII-1, isolated in 2008 from a 47-year old Finnish woman suffering from severe dyspeptic symptoms. In this study, we performed a detailed comparative genome analysis with H. pylori, providing new insights into non-pylori Helicobacter infections and the mechanisms of transmission between the primary animal host and humans.


H. bizzozeronii possesses all the genes necessary for its specialised life in the stomach. However, H. bizzozeronii differs from H. pylori by having a wider metabolic flexibility in terms of its energy sources and electron transport chain. Moreover, H. bizzozeronii harbours a higher number of methyl-accepting chemotaxis proteins, allowing it to respond to a wider spectrum of environmental signals. In this study, H. bizzozeronii has been shown to have high level of genome plasticity. We were able to identify a total of 43 contingency genes, 5 insertion sequences (ISs), 22 mini-IS elements, 1 genomic island and a putative prophage. Although H. bizzozeronii lacks homologues of some of the major H. pylori virulence genes, other candidate virulence factors are present. In particular, we identified a polysaccharide lyase (HBZC1_15820) as a potential new virulence factor of H. bizzozeronii.


The comparative genome analysis performed in this study increased the knowledge of the biology of gastric Helicobacter species. In particular, we propose the hypothesis that the high metabolic versatility and the ability to react to a range of environmental signals, factors which differentiate H. bizzozeronii as well as H. felis and H. suis from H. pylori, are the molecular basis of the of the zoonotic nature of H. heilmannii sensu lato infection in humans.