Uncovering the mystery of gliding motility in the myxobacteria. Academic Article uri icon


  • Bacterial gliding motility is the smooth movement of cells on solid surfaces unaided by flagella or pili. Many diverse groups of bacteria exhibit gliding, but the mechanism of gliding motility has remained a mystery since it was first observed more than a century ago. Recent studies on the motility of Myxococcus xanthus, a soil myxobacterium, suggest a likely mechanism for gliding in this organism. About forty M. xanthus genes were shown to be involved in gliding motility, and some of their protein products were labeled and localized within cells. These studies suggest that gliding motility in M. xanthus involves large multiprotein structural complexes, regulatory proteins, and cytoskeletal filaments. In this review, we summarize recent experiments that provide the basis for this emerging view of M. xanthus motility. We also discuss alternative models for gliding.

published proceedings

  • Annu Rev Genet

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Nan, B., & Zusman, D. R.

citation count

  • 91

complete list of authors

  • Nan, Beiyan||Zusman, David R

publication date

  • December 2011