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The main risk factor for stomach cancer, the third most common cause of cancer death worldwide, is infection with Helicobacter pylori bacterial strains that inject cytotoxin-associated gene A (CagA). As the first described bacterial oncoprotein, CagA causes gastric epithelial cell transformation by promoting an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-like phenotype that disrupts junctions and enhances motility and invasiveness of the infected cells. However, the mechanism by which CagA disrupts gastric epithelial cell polarity to achieve its oncogenicity is not fully understood. Here we found that the apoptosis-stimulating protein of p53 2 (ASPP2), a host tumor suppressor and an important CagA target, contributes to the survival of cagA-positive H. pylori in the lumen of infected gastric organoids. Mechanistically, the CagA-ASPP2 interaction is a key event that promotes remodeling of the partitioning-defective (PAR) polarity complex and leads to loss of cell polarity of infected cells. Blockade of cagA-positive H. pylori ASPP2 signaling by inhibitors of the EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) signaling pathway-identified by a high-content imaging screen-or by a CagA-binding ASPP2 peptide, prevents the loss of cell polarity and decreases the survival of H. pylori in infected organoids. These findings suggest that maintaining the host cell-polarity barrier would reduce the detrimental consequences of infection by pathogenic bacteria, such as H. pylori, that exploit the epithelial mucosal surface to colonize the host environment.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date





2645 - 2655


cell polarity, microbial pathogenesis, tumor suppressors, Antigens, Bacterial, Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins, Bacterial Proteins, Epithelial Cells, Helicobacter Infections, Helicobacter pylori, Host-Pathogen Interactions, Humans, Organoids, Protein Binding, Stomach