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PLoS Biol. 2013 Dec;11(12):e1001728. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001728. Epub 2013 Dec 10.

A versatile class of cell surface directional motors gives rise to gliding motility and sporulation in Myxococcus xanthus.

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Laboratoire de Chimie Bactérienne, CNRS UMR 7283, Aix-Marseille Université, Institut de Microbiologie de la Méditerranée, Marseille, France.


Eukaryotic cells utilize an arsenal of processive transport systems to deliver macromolecules to specific subcellular sites. In prokaryotes, such transport mechanisms have only been shown to mediate gliding motility, a form of microbial surface translocation. Here, we show that the motility function of the Myxococcus xanthus Agl-Glt machinery results from the recent specialization of a versatile class of bacterial transporters. Specifically, we demonstrate that the Agl motility motor is modular and dissociates from the rest of the gliding machinery (the Glt complex) to bind the newly expressed Nfs complex, a close Glt paralogue, during sporulation. Following this association, the Agl system transports Nfs proteins directionally around the spore surface. Since the main spore coat polymer is secreted at discrete sites around the spore surface, its transport by Agl-Nfs ensures its distribution around the spore. Thus, the Agl-Glt/Nfs machineries may constitute a novel class of directional bacterial surface transporters that can be diversified to specific tasks depending on the cognate cargo and machinery-specific accessories.

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