Carbon Fixation Driven by Molecular Hydrogen Results in Chemolithoautotrophically Enhanced Growth of Helicobacter pylori

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UNLABELLED: A molecular hydrogen (H2)-stimulated, chemolithoautotrophic growth mode for the gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori is reported. In a culture medium containing peptides and amino acids, H2-supplied cells consistently achieved 40 to 60% greater growth yield in 16 h and accumulated 3-fold more carbon from [(14)C]bicarbonate (on a per cell basis) in a 10-h period than cells without H2 Global proteomic comparisons of cells supplied with different atmospheric conditions revealed that addition of H2 led to increased amounts of hydrogenase and the biotin carboxylase subunit of acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA) carboxylase (ACC), as well as other proteins involved in various cellular functions, including amino acid metabolism, heme synthesis, or protein degradation. In agreement with this result, H2-supplied cells contained 3-fold more ACC activity than cells without H2 Other possible carbon dioxide (CO2) fixation enzymes were not up-expressed under the H2-containing atmosphere. As the gastric mucus is limited in carbon and energy sources and the bacterium lacks mucinase, this new growth mode may contribute to the persistence of the pathogen in vivo This is the first time that chemolithoautotrophic growth is described for a pathogen. IMPORTANCE: Many pathogens must survive within host areas that are poorly supplied with carbon and energy sources, and the gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori resides almost exclusively in the nutritionally stringent mucus barrier of its host. Although this bacterium is already known to be highly adaptable to gastric niches, a new aspect of its metabolic flexibility, whereby molecular hydrogen use (energy) is coupled to carbon dioxide fixation (carbon acquisition) via a described carbon fixation enzyme, is shown here. This growth mode, which supplements heterotrophy, is termed chemolithoautotrophy and has not been previously reported for a pathogen.

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Journal of bacteriology

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