MotX and MotY, specific components of the sodium-driven flagellar motor, colocalize to the outer membrane in Vibrio alginolyticus

Mol Microbiol. 2002 Oct;46(1):125-34. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.2002.03142.x.


Rotation of the sodium-driven polar flagella of Vibrio alginolyticus requires four motor proteins: PomA, PomB, MotX and MotY. MotX and MotY, which are unique components of the sodium-driven motor of Vibrio, have been believed to be localized in the inner (cytoplasmic) membrane via their N-terminal hydrophobic segments. Here we show that MotX and MotY colocalize to the outer membrane. Both proteins, when expressed together, were detected in the outer membrane fraction separated by sucrose density gradient centrifugation. As mature MotX and MotY proteins do not have N-terminal hydrophobic segments, the N-termini of the primary translation products must have signal sequences that are removed upon translocation across the inner membrane. Moreover, MotX and MotY require each other for efficient localization to the outer membrane. Based on these lines of evidence, we propose that MotX and MotY form a complex in the outer membrane. This is the first case that describes motor proteins function in the outer membrane for flagellar rotation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Centrifugation, Density Gradient
  • Detergents / pharmacology
  • Flagella / drug effects*
  • Flagella / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Protein Sorting Signals
  • Sodium / metabolism*
  • Solubility
  • Vibrio / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Detergents
  • Membrane Proteins
  • MotX protein, bacteria
  • MotY protein, Vibrio
  • Protein Sorting Signals
  • Sodium