CagA, an oncogenic virulence factor produced by Helicobacter pylori
, is causally associated with the development of gastrointestinal diseases such as chronic gastritis, peptic ulcers, and gastric cancer. Upon delivery into gastric epithelial cells via bacterial type IV secretion, CagA interacts with a number of host proteins through the intrinsically disordered C-terminal tail, which contains two repeatable protein-binding motifs, the Glu-Pro-Ile-Tyr-Ala (EPIYA) motif and the CagA multimerization (CM) motif. The EPIYA motif, upon phosphorylation by host kinases, binds and deregulates Src homology 2 domain-containing protein tyrosine phosphatase 2 (SHP2), a bona fide
oncoprotein, inducing pro-oncogenic mitogenic signaling and abnormal cell morphology. Through the CM motif, CagA inhibits the kinase activity of polarity regulator partitioning-defective 1b (PAR1b), causing junctional and polarity defects while inducing actin cytoskeletal rearrangements. The magnitude of the pathobiological action of individual CagA has been linked to the tandem repeat polymorphisms of these two binding motifs, yet the molecular mechanisms by which they affect disease outcome remain unclear. Recent studies using quantitative techniques have provided new insights into how the sequence polymorphisms in the structurally disordered C-terminal region determine the degree of pro-oncogenic action of CagA in the gastric epithelium.
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