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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e54557. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054557. Epub 2013 Jan 16.

MasABK proteins interact with proteins of the type IV pilin system to affect social motility of Myxococcus xanthus.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, United States of America.


Gliding motility is critical for normal development of spore-filled fruiting bodies in the soil bacterium Myxococcus xanthus. Mutations in mgl block motility and development but one mgl allele can be suppressed by a mutation in masK, the last gene in an operon adjacent to the mgl operon. Deletion of the entire 5.5 kb masABK operon crippled gliding and fruiting body development and decreased sporulation. Expression of pilAGHI, which encodes type IV pili (TFP) components essential for social (S) gliding, several cryptic pil genes, and a LuxR family protein were reduced significantly in the Δmas mutant while expression of the myxalamide operon was increased significantly. Localization and two-hybrid analysis suggest that the three Mas proteins form a membrane complex. MasA-PhoA fusions confirmed that MasA is an integral cytoplasmic membrane protein with a ≈100 amino acid periplasmic domain. Results from yeast two-hybrid assays showed that MasA interacts with the lipoprotein MasB and MasK, a protein kinase and that MasB and MasK interact with one another. Additionally, yeast two-hybrid analysis revealed a physical interaction between two gene products of the mas operon, MasA and MasB, and PilA. Deletion of mas may be accompanied by compensatory mutations since complementation of the Δmas social gliding and developmental defects required addition of both pilA and masABK.

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