Genome-wide analysis of chromosomal import patterns after natural transformation of Helicobacter pylori

Sebastian Bubendorfer, Juliane Krebes, Ines Yang, Elias Hage, Thomas F. Schulz, Christelle Bahlawane, Xavier Didelot, Sebastian Suerbaum*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Recombination plays a dominant role in the evolution of the bacterial pathogen Helicobacter pylori, but its dynamics remain incompletely understood. Here we use an in vitro transformation system combined with genome sequencing to study chromosomal integration patterns after natural transformation. A single transformation cycle results in up to 21 imports, and repeated transformations generate a maximum of 92 imports (8% sequence replacement). Import lengths show a bimodal distribution with averages of 28 and 1,645 bp. Reanalysis of paired H. pylori genomes from chronically infected people demonstrates the same bimodal import pattern in vivo. Restriction endonucleases (REases) of the recipient bacteria fail to inhibit integration of homeologous DNA, independently of methylation. In contrast, REases limit the import of heterologous DNA. We conclude that restriction-modification systems inhibit the genomic integration of novel sequences, while they pose no barrier to homeologous recombination, which reconciles the observed stability of the H. pylori gene content and its highly recombinational population structure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11995
JournalNature Communications
Volume7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes

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