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Outlook

The early availability of a complete genome sequence has contributed enormously to the rapid progress made in various areas of H. pylori research, and it is without any doubt due to this fact that H. pylori already - less than 25 years after its discovery - is one of the best studied bacterial pathogens. Because its genome is small, H. pylori has been widely used as a pioneering model system for novel genomic/ postgenomic technologies, such as intraspecies whole-genome comparison [3], high throughput protein interaction mapping [68], comparative proteome analysis [69], and reconstruction of complex bacterial regulatory systems [70, 71] or genome comparisons [28] using whole-genome DNA microarrays. The analysis of the H. hepaticus genome has made a first enterohepatic Helicobacter species amenable to systematic postgenomic analysis of its pathogenic potential in hepatobiliary and enteric disease. Additional genomes that are currently being sequenced include H. mustelae, a gastric pathogen of ferrets (sequenced at the Sanger Centre), and several H. pylori strains associated with different clinical diseases or from specific H. pylori strain populations [5]. As more genome sequences from the genus Helicobacter become available, it should become possible to reconstruct the evolution of these host-adapted bacteria, to generate solid hypotheses regarding the genomic basis of host and tissue tropism, and - perhaps most importantly -to fully elucidate the mechanisms of the carcinogenic effect of H. pylori, H. hepati-cus, and possibly other Helicobacter species.

Acknowledgments

Work on H. pylori and H. hepaticus pathogenomics in the authors' laboratory is funded by grants from the German Research Foundation (SFB479, SFB621, Priority program SPP1047) and by the PathoGenoMik network of the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

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