Methods: We performed whole-genome sequencing on 121 H. pylori clinical strains, among which 73 were metronidazole-resistant. Sequence-alignment analysis of core protein clusters derived from clinical strains containing full-length RdxA was performed. Variable sites in each alignment were statistically compared between the resistant and susceptible groups to determine candidate genes along with their respective amino-acid changes that may account for the development of metronidazole resistance in H. pylori.
Results: Resistance due to RdxA truncation was identified in 34% of metronidazole-resistant strains. Analysis of core protein clusters derived from the remaining 48 metronidazole-resistant strains and 48 metronidazole-susceptible identified four variable sites significantly associated with metronidazole resistance. These sites included R16H/C in RdxA, D85N in the inner-membrane protein RclC (HP0565), V265I in a biotin carboxylase protein (HP0370) and A51V/T in a putative threonylcarbamoyl-AMP synthase (HP0918).
Conclusions: Our approach identified new potential mechanisms for metronidazole resistance in H. pylori that merit further investigation.