Heterologous protein transfer within structured myxobacteria biofilms
Article first published online: 3 JUN 2011
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Volume 81, Issue 2, pages 315–326, July 2011
How to Cite
Wei, X., Pathak, D. T. and Wall, D. (2011), Heterologous protein transfer within structured myxobacteria biofilms. Molecular Microbiology, 81: 315–326. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2011.07710.x
- Issue published online: 10 JUL 2011
- Article first published online: 3 JUN 2011
- Accepted 17 May, 2011.
Microbial biofilms represent heterogeneous populations of cells that form intimate contacts. Within these populations cells communicate, cooperate and compete. Myxobacteria are noted for their complex social interactions, including gliding motility and lipoprotein exchange. Here, we investigated cis protein sequence and cellular behaviour requirements for lipoprotein transfer between Myxococcus xanthus cells. Specifically, an outer membrane (OM) type II signal sequence (SS) fused to the heterologous mCherry fluorescent reporter resulted in OM localization. When donor cells harbouring SSOM–mCherry were mixed with GFP-labelled recipient cells they developed red fluorescence. Our results surprisingly showed that a type II SS for OM localization, but not inner membrane localization, was necessary and sufficient for rapid and efficient heterologous protein transfer. Importantly, transfer did not occur in liquid or on surfaces where cells were poorly aligned. We conclude that cell–cell contact and alignment is a critical step for lipoprotein exchange. We hypothesize that protein transfer facilitates cooperative myxobacteria behaviours.