Cell-to-Cell Transfer of Bacterial Outer Membrane Lipoproteins

Science  01 Jul 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5731, pp. 125-127
DOI: 10.1126/science.1112440

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Myxococcus xanthus cells can glide forward by retracting type IV pili. Tgl, an outer membrane lipoprotein, is necessary to assemble pili. Tgl mutants can be transiently “stimulated” if brought into end-to-end contact with tgl+ donor cells. By separating the stimulated recipient cells from donor cells, we found that Tgl protein was transferred from the donors to the rescued recipient cells. Mutants lacking CglB lipoprotein, which is part of a second gliding engine, could also be stimulated, and CglB protein was transferred from donor to recipient cells. The high transfer efficiency of Tgl and CglB proteins suggests that donor and recipient cells briefly fuse their outer membranes.

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