Myxococcus xanthus is a gliding bacterium that possesses two motility systems, the adventurous (A-motility) and social (S-motility) systems. A-motility is used for individual cell gliding, while S-motility is used for gliding in multicellular groups. Video microscopy studies showed that nla24 cells are non-motile on agar surfaces, suggesting that the nla24 gene product is absolutely required for both A-motility and S-motility under these assay conditions. S-motility requires functional type IV pili, wild-type LPS O-antigen, and an extracellular matrix of exopolysaccharide (EPS) and protein called fibrils. The results of expression studies and tethering assays indicate that the nla24 mutant has functional type IV pili. The nla24 mutant also produces wild-type LPS. However, several lines of evidence suggest that the nla24 mutant is defective for production of the EPS portion of the fibril matrix. The nla24 mutant is also defective for transcription of two genes (aglU and cglB) known to be required for A-motility, which is consistent with the idea that nla24 cells are defective for A-motility. Based on these findings, it is proposed that the putative transcriptional activator Nla24 regulates a subset of genes that are important for A-motility and S-motility in M. xanthus.
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