Three-dimensional structure of Mycoplasma pneumoniae’s attachment organelle and a model for its role in gliding motility
Article first published online: 8 MAR 2006
Volume 60, Issue 2, pages 376–385, April 2006
How to Cite
Henderson, G. P. and Jensen, G. J. (2006), Three-dimensional structure of Mycoplasma pneumoniae’s attachment organelle and a model for its role in gliding motility. Molecular Microbiology, 60: 376–385. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2006.05113.x
- Issue published online: 8 MAR 2006
- Article first published online: 8 MAR 2006
- Accepted 7 February, 2006.
While most motile bacteria propel themselves with flagella, other mechanisms have been described including retraction of surface-attached pili, secretion of polysaccharides, or movement of motors along surface protein tracks. These have been referred to collectively as forms of ‘gliding’ motility. Despite being simultaneously one of the smallest and simplest of all known cells, Mycoplasma pneumoniae builds a surprisingly large and complex cell extension known as the attachment organelle that enables it to glide. Here, three-dimensional images of the attachment organelle were produced with unprecedented clarity and authenticity using state-of-the-art electron cryotomography. The attachment organelle was seen to contain a multisubunit, jointed, dynamic motor much larger than a flagellar basal body and comparable in complexity. A new model for its function is proposed wherein inchworm-like conformational changes of its electron-dense core are leveraged against a cytoplasmic anchor and transmitted to the surface through layered adhesion proteins.