MotAB-like machinery drives the movement of MreB filaments during bacterial gliding motility.
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MreB is a bacterial actin that is important for cell shape and cell wall biosynthesis in many bacterial species. MreB also plays crucial roles in Myxococcus xanthus gliding motility, but the underlying mechanism remains unknown. Here we tracked the dynamics of single MreB particles in M. xanthus using single-particle tracking photoactivated localization microscopy. We found that a subpopulation of MreB particles moves rapidly along helical trajectories, similar to the movements of the MotAB-like gliding motors. The rapid MreB motion was stalled in the mutants that carried truncated gliding motors. Remarkably, M. xanthus MreB moves one to two orders of magnitude faster than its homologs that move along with the cell wall synthesis machinery in Bacillus subtilis and Escherichia coli, and this rapid movement was not affected by the inhibitors of cell wall biosynthesis. Our results show that in M. xanthus, MreB provides a scaffold for the gliding motors while the gliding machinery drives the movement of MreB filaments, analogous to the interdependent movements of myosin motors and actin in eukaryotic cells.