Cytoskeletal protein P41 is required to anchor the terminal organelle of the wall-less prokaryote Mycoplasma pneumoniae

Mol Microbiol. 2007 Jan;63(1):44-53. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2006.05507.x. Epub 2006 Dec 5.


The cell wall-less prokaryote Mycoplasma pneumoniae approaches the minimal requirements for a cell yet produces a complex terminal organelle that mediates cytadherence and gliding motility. Here we explored the molecular nature of the M. pneumoniae gliding machinery, utilizing fluorescent protein fusions and digital microcinematography to characterize gliding-altered mutants having transposon insertions in MPN311, encoding the cytoskeletal protein P41. Disruption of MPN311 resulted in loss of P41 and P24, the downstream gene product. Gliding ceases in wild-type M. pneumoniae during terminal organelle development, which occurs at the cell poles adjacent to an existing structure. In contrast, terminal organelle development in MPN311 mutants did not necessarily coincide with gliding cessation, and new terminal organelles frequently formed at lateral sites. Furthermore, new terminal organelles exhibited gliding capacity quickly, unlike wild-type M. pneumoniae. P41 and P24 localize at the base of the terminal organelle; in their absence this structure detached from the cell body of motile and dividing cells but retained gliding capacity and thus constitutes the gliding apparatus. Recombinant wild-type P41 restored cell integrity, establishing a role for this protein in anchoring the terminal organelle to the cell body.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / physiology*
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae / genetics
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae / growth & development
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae / physiology*
  • Organelles / metabolism*


  • Cytoskeletal Proteins