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Flagella stator homologs function as motors for myxobacterial gliding motility by moving in helical trajectories

, : Flagella stator homologs function as motors for myxobacterial gliding motility by moving in helical trajectories. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 110(16): E1508-E1513

Many bacterial species use gliding motility in natural habitats because external flagella function poorly on hard surfaces. However, the mechanism(s) of gliding remain elusive because surface motility structures are not apparent. Here, we characterized the dynamics of the Myxococcus xanthus gliding motor protein AglR, a homolog of the Escherichia coli flagella stator protein MotA. We observed that AglR decorated a helical structure, and the AglR helices rotated when cells were suspended in liquid or when cells moved on agar surfaces. With photoactivatable localization microscopy, we found that single molecules of AglR, unlike MotA/MotB, can move laterally within the membrane in helical trajectories. AglR slowed down transiently at gliding surfaces, accumulating in clusters. Our work shows that the untethered gliding motors of M. xanthus, by moving within the membrane, can transform helical motion into linear driving forces that push against the surface.


PMID: 23576734

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1219982110

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