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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2002 Oct 8;215(2):285-9.

Movement on the cell surface of the gliding bacterium, Mycoplasma mobile, is limited to its head-like structure.

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Department of Biology, Graduate School of Science, Osaka City University, Sumiyoshi-ku, Japan.


Mycoplasma mobile cells glide on solid surfaces such as glass with a fast and continuous motion in the direction of the membrane protrusion (head-like structure) at one cell pole. To examine its cell-surface movement, a latex bead was attached to a cell and behavior in gliding was monitored. The bead was carried without movement relative to the cell body, suggesting that the cell does not roll around the cell axis and the surface movement is limited to a small area. A small percentage of cells showed an elongated head-like structure in an old batch culture. The head-like structure moved forward, sometimes leaving the cell body in one position, resulting in a stretching of this head-like structure. These results indicate that the head-like structure drags the cell body, leading us to conclude that the force for gliding is generated at the head-like structure.

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