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Journal of Pathogens
Volume 2011, Article ID 217376, 9 pages
Research Article

Molecular Characterization of the 16S rRNA Gene of Helicobacter fennelliae Isolated from Stools and Blood Cultures from Paediatric Patients in South Africa

1Division of Medical Virology/National Health Laboratory Service, Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, University of Cape Town, Anzio Road, Observatory 7925, South Africa
2Department of Biotechnology, University of the Western Cape, Modderdam Road, Bellville 7535, South Africa

Received 23 July 2010; Revised 27 September 2010; Accepted 4 October 2010

Academic Editor: Chiung-Yu Hung

Copyright © 2011 Heidi E. M. Smuts and Albert Joseph Lastovica. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Forty strains of H. fennelliae collected from paediatric blood and stool samples over an 18 year period at a children's hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, were amplified by PCR of the 16S rRNA. Two distinct genotypes of H. fennelliae were identified based on the phylogenetic analysis. This was confirmed by sequencing a portion of the beta subunit of the RNA polymerase (rpoB) gene. All isolates from South Africa clustered with a proposed novel Helicobacter strain (accession number AF237612) isolated in Australia, while three H. fennelliae type strains from the northern hemisphere, NCTC 11612, LMG 7546 and CCUG 18820, formed a separate branch. A large (355bp) highly conserved intervening sequence (IVS) in the 16S rRNA was found in all isolates. Predicted secondary structures of the IVS from the 16S rRNA and 23S rRNA were characterised by a primary stem structure formed by base pairing of the 3 and 5 ends and internal loops and stems. This phylogenetic analysis is the largest undertaken of H. fennelliae. The South African H. fennelliae isolates are closely related to an Australian isolate previously reported to be a possible novel species of Helicobacter. This study suggests that the latter is strain of H. fennelliae.