History of Helicobacter pylori and Human: An Intimate Story of Pathogen–Host Relationship

Abstract

The history of Helicobacter pylori is a fascinating story from its discovery which changed the paradigm of gastric as a sterile environment and the gastroduodenal diseases to the fact that it is now infecting about half of the human population. Besides the interesting medical aspect, H. pylori also had a unique feature as high recombination and mutation rate, yet exceptionally well‐structured population genetics. In addition, evolutionary relationship with the host had been started at least ∼100 000 years ago and accompanied human migration from Africa to the Pacific. Recent discovery of ‘The Iceman’ H. pylori suggested the second introduction of the bacterium in Europe, which is at least ∼5 300 years old. Tracing of the human–H. pylori association within the past 500 years after colonial expansion showed that H. pylori had more dynamic recombination than its host, yet maintained similarity to its host, suggesting a very intimate relationship between the host and its pathogen.

Key Concepts

  • The history of Helicobacter pylori is a fascinating story from its discovery which changed the paradigm of gastric as a sterile environment and the gastroduodenal diseases to the fact that it is now infecting about half of the human population.
  • H. pylori had a unique feature as high recombination and mutation rate, yet exceptionally well‐structured population genetics.
  • Evolutionary relationship with the host had been started at least ∼100 000 years ago and accompanied human migration from Africa to the Pacific.
  • With the increasing number of genomes available for H. pylori, finer resolution human–pathogen relationship could be traced in the past 500 years after the colonial expansion.
  • H. pylori had more dynamic recombination than its host, yet maintained similarity to its host, suggesting a very intimate relationship between the host and its pathogen.

Keywords: Helicobacter pylori; migration; pathogens; out of Africa; genetic population; whole‐genome analyses

Figure 1. Global phylogeny of H. pylori simulating the time split between populations. The housekeeping gene sequence diversity is structured into two superlineages which coalescent approximately ∼88–116 kya. The absence of the cag PAI on the hpAfrica2 population attributed by the introduction of the cag PAI after split into other H. pylori but prior the first ‘out of Africa’ approximately ∼58–88 kya.
Figure 2. The migration events and initial coalescent of H. pylori in Africa. The first coalescent of H. pylori to human from the unknown ancestor in Black circle; Black line. The first out of Africa; Purple line. The other wave of the ancestor to the south which evolves to the hpAfrica2 population; Light blue line. H. pylori divergence of hpAfrica1 and hpNEAfrica. Trajectory of Bantu Speakers from hpAfrica1; Green line. Migration during Holocene period and second introduction of H. pylori to Europe.
Figure 3. The global human migration waves from Africa to the Pacific and Americas with H. pylori. The current understanding of the global human–H. pylori coevolution to the world is shown.
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Waskito, Langgeng Agung, Miftahussurur, Muhammad, and Yamaoka, Yoshio(Oct 2020) History of Helicobacter pylori and Human: An Intimate Story of Pathogen–Host Relationship. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0029070]