Background: Helicobacter pylori infection is exceptionally prevalent and is considered to be acquired primarily early in life through person-to-person transmission within the family. H. pylori is a genetically diverse bacterial species, which may facilitate adaptation to new hosts and persistence for decades. The present study aimed to explore the genetic diversity of clonal isolates from a mother and her three children in order to shed light on H. pylori transmission and host adaptation. Results: Two different H. pylori strains and strain variants were identified in the family members by PCR-based molecular typing and sequencing of five loci. Genome diversity was further assessed for 15 isolates by comparative microarray hybridizations. The microarray consisted of 1,745 oligonucleotides representing the genes of two previously sequenced H. pylori strains. The microarray analysis detected a limited mean number (+/- standard error) of divergent genes between clonal isolates from the same and different individuals (1 +/- 0.4, 0.1%, and 3 +/- 0.3, 0.2%, respectively). There was considerable variability between the two different strains in the family members (147 +/- 4, 8%) and for all isolates relative to the two sequenced reference strains (314 +/- 16, 18%). The diversity between different strains was associated with gene functional classes related to DNA metabolism and the cell envelope. Conclusion: The present data from clonal H. pylori isolates of family members do not support that transmission and host adaptation are associated with substantial sequence diversity in the bacterial genome. However, important phenotypic modifications may be determined by additional genetic mechanisms, such as phase-variation. Our findings can aid further exploration of H. pylori genetic diversity and adaptation.
2007. Vol. 7, 54- p.