Development of two PCR-based techniques for detecting helical and coccoid forms of Helicobacter pylori

M. Shahamat, M. Alavi, Joy Watts, J. Gonzalez, K. Sowers, D. Maeder, F. Robb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The primary mode of transmission of Helicobacter pylori, a human pathogen carried by more than half the population worldwide, is still unresolved. Some epidemiological data suggest water as a possible transmission route. H. pylori in the environment transforms into a nonculturable, coccoid form, which frequently results in the failure to detect this bacterium in environmental samples by conventional culture techniques. To overcome limitations associated with culturing, molecular approaches based on DNA amplification by PCR have been developed and used for the detection of H. pylori in clinical and environmental samples. Our results showed the glmM gene as the most promising target for detection of H. pylori by PCR amplification. Under optimal amplification conditions, glmM-specific primers generated PCR-amplified products that were specific for H. pylori and some other Helicobacter species. Genome sequence analysis revealed the existence of a conserved region linked to a hypervariable region upstream of the 16S rRNA gene of H. pylori. Selective PCR primer sets targeting this sequence were evaluated for the specific detection of H. pylori. One primer set, Cluster2 and B1J99, were shown to be highly specific for H. pylori strains and did not produce any PCR products when other Helicobacter species and other bacterial species were analyzed. In tests with 32 strains of H. pylori, 6 strains of other Helicobacter species, 8 strains of Campylobacter jejuni, and 21 strains belonging to different genera, the primers for glmM were selective for the Helicobacter genus and the primers containing the region flanking the 16S rRNA gene were selective for H. pylori species only. The combination of two sensitive PCR-based methods, one targeting the glmM gene and the other targeting a hypervariable flanking region upstream of the 16S rRNA gene, are complementary to each other. Whereas the glmM-specific primers provide a rapid, sensitive presumptive assay for the presence of H. pylori and closely related Helicobacter spp., the primers for sequences flanking the 16S rRNA gene can confirm the presence of H. pylori and locate the potential source of this bacterium.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3613-3619
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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