Helicobacter hepaticus colonizes the intestine and liver of mice causing hepatobiliary disorders such as hepatitis and hepatocellular carcinoma, and has also been associated with inflammatory bowel disease in children. In its habitat, H. hepaticus must encounter bile which has potent antibacterial properties. To elucidate virulence and host-specific adaptation mechanisms of H. hepaticus modulated by human or porcine bile, a proteomic study of its response to the two types of bile was performed employing two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE) and mass spectrometry.
The 2-DE and mass spectrometry analyses of the proteome revealed that 46 proteins of H. hepaticus were differentially expressed in human bile, 18 up-regulated and 28 down-regulated. In the case of porcine bile, 32 proteins were differentially expressed of which 19 were up-regulated, and 13 were down-regulated. Functional classifications revealed that identified proteins participated in various biological functions including stress response, energy metabolism, membrane stability, motility, virulence and colonization. Selected genes were analyzed by RT-PCR to provide internal validation for the proteomic data as well as provide insight into specific expressions of motility, colonization and virulence genes of H. hepaticus in response to human or porcine bile.
Overall, the data suggested that bile is an important factor that determines virulence, host adaptation, localization and colonization of specific niches within host environment.