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Work Group Fischer

Helicobacter pylori type IV secretion

For modulating cells of an infected organism, bacterial pathogens often utilise proteins with highly specific biochemical activities that are transported to their destinations by dedicated secretion systems. One example is the human pathogen Helicobacter pylori, which colonizes the gastric epithelium and causes diseases such as chronic gastritis, gastric or duodenal ulcers, but also gastric cancer and MALT lymphoma. Major pathogenicity determinants of H. pylori, notably for the development of gastric cancer, are the Cytotoxin-associated gene (Cag) type IV secretion system and its translocated effector protein CagA. Generally, type IV secretion systems are molecular machines with a remarkably broad repertoire of transported substrates. They are able to secrete protein toxins, to export or import DNA molecules, or to inject bacterial proteins into plant, animal or human cells. One major aim of our research projects is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of the type IV secretion process and secretion signal recognition of the CagA protein. A second focus of our work is to examine the mechanisms of horizontal gene transfer in H. pylori, a highly efficient process for spread of antibiotic resistance or pathogenicity factors.