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Background. Restriction fragment-length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis of a 1,200-bp polymerase chain reaction–amplified DNA fragment of gene coding for 16S rRNA was used to generate restriction profiles of 11 enterohepatic Helicobacter spp. isolated from various animals and humans.

Methods. The amplicon from each Helicobacter sp. was digested with four restriction endonucleases: Alu I, Hinf I, Hha I, and Dde I. Alu I digestion produced five patterns that were useful for initial differentiation.

Results. Most Helicobacter spp. isolated from rodents had the same RFLP profiles by Alu I digestion (except H. rodentium and H. cholecystus), but they had different RFLP profiles by Hha I digestion. Only H. bilis and “H. rappini” mouse isolates could not be readily distinguished by the polymerase chain reaction-RFLP method. However, these two species can be distinguished using H. bilis specific primers. Some of the Helicobacter spp. have an intervening sequence in their 16S rRNA gene, which changes the RFLP patterns; in these cases, sequencing is the preferred method to make an appropriate diagnosis.

Conclusions. The RFLP method used in this study was straightforward and rapid and should prove useful as an adjunct for identification and classification of multiple enterohepatic Helicobacter spp.