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J Bacteriol. 2000 Feb;182(4):911-8.

Cloning and characterization of the Flavobacterium johnsoniae gliding-motility genes gldB and gldC.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201, USA.


The mechanism of bacterial gliding motility (active movement over surfaces without the aid of flagella) is not known. A large number of mutants of the gliding bacterium Flavobacterium johnsoniae (Cytophaga johnsonae) with defects in gliding motility have been previously isolated, and genetic techniques to analyze these mutants have recently been developed. We complemented a nongliding mutant of F. johnsoniae (UW102-99) with a library of wild-type DNA by using the shuttle cosmid pCP26. The complementing plasmid (pCP200) contained an insert of 26 kb and restored gliding motility to 4 of 50 independently isolated nongliding mutants. A 1.9-kb fragment which encompassed two genes, gldB and gldC, complemented all four mutants. An insertion mutation in gldB was polar on gldC, suggesting that the two genes form an operon. Disruption of the chromosomal copy of gldB in wild-type F. johnsoniae UW101 eliminated gliding motility. Introduction of the gldBC operon, or gldB alone, restored motility. gldB appears to be essential for F. johnsoniae gliding motility. It codes for a membrane protein that does not exhibit strong sequence similarity to other proteins in the databases. gldC is not absolutely required for gliding motility, but cells that do not produce GldC form colonies that spread less well than those of the wild type. GldC is a soluble protein and has weak sequence similarity to the fungal lectin AOL.

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