• DNA replication;
  • helicase;
  • Helicobacter pylori;
  • replication foci;
  • single-stranded DNA binding protein

Helicobacter pylori, an important bacterial pathogen, causes gastric ulcer and gastric adenocarcinoma in humans. The fundamentals of basic biology such as DNA replication are poorly understood in this pathogen. In the present study, we report the cloning and functional characterization of the single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) binding protein from H. pylori. The N-terminal DNA binding domain shows significant homology with E. coli single-stranded DNA binding protein (SSB), whereas the C-terminal domain shows less homology. The overall DNA-binding activity and tetramerization properties, however, remain unaffected. In in vitro experiments with purified proteins, H. pylori (Hp) SSB bound specifically to ssDNA and modulated the enzymatic ATPase and helicase activity of HpDnaB helicase. HpSSB and HpDnaB proteins were co-localized in sharp, distinct foci in exponentially growing H. pylori cells, whereas both were spread over large areas in its dormant coccoid form, suggesting the absence of active replication forks in the latter. These results confirm the multiple roles of SSB during DNA replication and provide evidence for altered replicative metabolism in the spiral and coccoid forms that may be central to the bacterial physiology and pathogenesis.