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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1977 Jul;74(7):2938-42.

Cell-to-cell stimulation of movement in nonmotile mutants of Myxococcus.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, California 94305.


A large number of nonmotile mutants of the gliding bacterium Myxococcus xanthus have been isolated and partly characterized. About [unk] of these mutants are conditional mutants of a novel kind: mutant cells become transiently motile after contact with nonmutant cells or with cells of a different mutant type. These "stimulatable" mutants fall into five phenotypic classes (types B, C, D, E, and F). Most mutants are nonstimulatable (type A) and never become motile, but type A cells (and wild-type cells) can stimulate cells of any of the other five types. Stimulatable mutants of different types are capable of stimulating each other. For example, in a mixture of B and C cells, both become motile. Linkage analysis using a generalized transducing phage has shown that each of types B, C, D, E, and F corresponds to a single distinct genetic locus. Type A mutants, by contrast, belong to at least 17 different loci. Stimulation depends on close apposition of interacting cells, because stimulation does not occur when contact between cells is prevented. It is possible that the stimulatable mutants are defective in components of the gliding mechanism that can be exchanged between cells. Alternatively, they may be defective in a system of cell communication controlling the coordinated cell movements observed in Myxococcus.

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