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Mol Microbiol. 1998 Oct;30(2):275-84.

The Myxococcus xanthus lipopolysaccharide O-antigen is required for social motility and multicellular development.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, The University of Texas Medical School, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


The gliding bacterium Myxococcus xanthus aggregates to form spore-filled fruiting bodies when nutrients are limiting. Defective fruiting-body formation and sporulation result from mutations in the sasA locus, which encodes the wzm wzt wbgA (formerly rfbABC) lipopolysaccharide (LPS) O-antigen biosynthesis genes. Mutants carrying these same sasA mutations are defective in social motility and form small glossy colonies. We report here that the developmental and motility phenotypes of four mutants each containing different Tn5 insertions in LPS O-antigen biosynthesis genes are similar to those of the original sasA locus mutants. All of the LPS O-antigen mutants tested exhibited defective developmental aggregation and sporulated at only 0.02-15% of the wild-type level. In addition, all of the LPS O-antigen mutants were determined by genetic analyses to be wild type for adventurous motility and defective in social motility, indicating that the LPS O-antigen is necessary for normal development and social motility. The two previously identified cell-surface components required for social motility, type IV pili and the protein-associated polysaccharide material termed fibrils, were detected on the surfaces of all of the LPS O-antigen mutants. This indicates that LPS O-antigen is a third cell-surface component required for social motility.

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