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Genomes of Helicobacter pylori from native Peruvians suggest admixture of ancestral and modern lineages and reveal a western type cag-pathogenicity island

S Manjulata Devi1, Irshad Ahmed23, Aleem A Khan2, Syed Asad Rahman4, Ayesha Alvi1, Leonardo A Sechi5 and Niyaz Ahmed15*

Author Affiliations

1 Pathogen Evolution Group, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad, India

2 Centre for Liver Research and Diagnostics, Deccan College of Medical Sciences and allied hospitals, Hyderabad, India

3 Department of Microbiology, Shri Shivaji College of Arts, Commerce and Science (SGB Amravati University), Akola, MS, India

4 Cologne University Bioinformatics Centre, Cologne, Germany

5 ISOGEM Collaborative Network on Genetics of Helicobacters, The International Society for Genomic and Evolutionary Microbiology, University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy

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BMC Genomics 2006, 7:191  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-7-191

Published: 27 July 2006



Helicobacter pylori is presumed to be co-evolved with its human host and is a highly diverse gastric pathogen at genetic levels. Ancient origins of H. pylori in the New World are still debatable. It is not clear how different waves of human migrations in South America contributed to the evolution of strain diversity of H. pylori. The objective of our 'phylogeographic' study was to gain fresh insights into these issues through mapping genetic origins of H. pylori of native Peruvians (of Amerindian ancestry) and their genomic comparison with isolates from Spain, and Japan.


For this purpose, we attempted to dissect genetic identity of strains by fluorescent amplified fragment length polymorphism (FAFLP) analysis, multilocus sequence typing (MLST) of the 7 housekeeping genes (atpA, efp, ureI, ppa, mutY, trpC, yphC) and the sequence analyses of the babB adhesin and oipA genes. The whole cag pathogenicity-island (cagPAI) from these strains was analyzed using PCR and the geographic type of cagA phosphorylation motif EPIYA was determined by gene sequencing. We observed that while European genotype (hp-Europe) predominates in native Peruvian strains, approximately 20% of these strains represent a sub-population with an Amerindian ancestry (hsp-Amerind). All of these strains however, irrespective of their ancestral affiliation harbored a complete, 'western' type cagPAI and the motifs surrounding it. This indicates a possible acquisition of cagPAI by the hsp-Amerind strains from the European strains, during decades of co-colonization.


Our observations suggest presence of ancestral H. pylori (hsp-Amerind) in Peruvian Amerindians which possibly managed to survive and compete against the Spanish strains that arrived to the New World about 500 years ago. We suggest that this might have happened after native Peruvian H. pylori strains acquired cagPAI sequences, either by new acquisition in cag-negative strains or by recombination in cag positive Amerindian strains.