Flagellar Motor Transformed: Biophysical Perspectives of the Myxococcus xanthus Gliding Mechanism. Academic Article uri icon


  • Many bacteria move on solid surfaces using gliding motility, without involvement of flagella or pili. Gliding of Myxococcus xanthus is powered by a proton channel homologous to the stators in the bacterial flagellar motor. Instead of being fixed in place and driving the rotation of a circular protein track like the flagellar basal body, the gliding machinery of M. xanthus travels the length of the cell along helical trajectories, while mechanically engaging with the substrate. Such movement entails a different molecular mechanism to generate propulsion on the cell. In this perspective, we will discuss the similarities and differences between the M. xanthus gliding machinery and bacterial flagellar motor, and use biophysical principles to generate hypotheses about the operating mechanism, efficiency, sensitivity to control, and mechanosensing of M. xanthus gliding.

published proceedings

  • Front Microbiol

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Chen, J., & Nan, B.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Chen, Jing||Nan, Beiyan

publication date

  • January 2022