International Journal of Molecular Sciences (Feb 2021)

TFF1 Induces Aggregation and Reduces Motility of <i>Helicobacter pylori</i>

  • Daniela Eletto,
  • Megi Vllahu,
  • Fatima Mentucci,
  • Pasquale Del Gaudio,
  • Antonello Petrella,
  • Amalia Porta,
  • Alessandra Tosco

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 22, no. 4
p. 1851


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Gastric cancer is considered one of the most common malignancies in humans and Helicobacter pylori infection is the major environmental risk factor of gastric cancer development. Given the high spread of this bacterium whose infection is mostly asymptomatic, H. pylori colonization persists for a long time, becoming chronic and predisposing to malignant transformation. The first defensive barrier from bacterial infection is constituted by the gastric mucosa that secretes several protective factors, among which is the trefoil factor 1 (TFF1), that, as mucin 5AC, binds the bacterium. Even if the protective role of TFF1 is well-documented, the molecular mechanisms that confer a beneficial function to the interaction among TFF1 and H. pylori remain still unclear. Here we analyze the effects of this interaction on H. pylori at morphological and molecular levels by means of microscopic observation, chemiotaxis and motility assays and real-time PCR analysis. Our results show that TFF1 favors aggregation of H. pylori and significantly slows down the motility of the bacterium across the mucus. Such aggregates significantly reduce both flgE and flaB gene transcription compared with bacteria not incubated with TFF1. Finally, our results suggest that the interaction between TFF1 and the bacterium may explain the frequent persistence of H. pylori in the human host without inducing disease.