Analysis of energy sources for Mycoplasma penetrans gliding motility


Correspondence: Mitchell F. Balish, Department of Microbiology, Miami University, 80 Pearson Hall, Oxford, OH 45056, USA. Tel.: (+1) 513 529 0167; fax: (+1) 513 529 2431; e-mail:


Mycoplasma penetrans, a potential human pathogen found mainly in HIV-infected individuals, uses a tip structure for both adherence and gliding motility. To improve our understanding of the molecular mechanism of M. penetrans gliding motility, we used chemical inhibitors of energy sources associated with motility of other organisms to determine which of these is used by M. penetrans and also tested whether gliding speed responded to temperature and pH. Mycoplasma penetrans gliding motility was not eliminated in the presence of a proton motive force inhibitor, a sodium motive force inhibitor, or an agent that depletes cellular ATP. At near-neutral pH, gliding speed increased as temperature increased. The absence of a clear chemical energy source for gliding motility and a positive correlation between speed and temperature suggest that energy derived from heat provides the major source of power for the gliding motor of M. penetrans.