Deletion of the Mycoplasma genitalium MG_217 gene modifies cell gliding behaviour by altering terminal organelle curvature

Mol Microbiol. 2008 Aug;69(4):1029-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2008.06343.x. Epub 2008 Jun 28.


Motility is often a virulence factor of pathogenic bacteria. Although recent works have identified genes involved in gliding motility of mycoplasmas, little is known about the mechanisms governing the cell gliding behaviour. Here, we report that Mycoplasma genitalium MG217 is a novel protein involved in the gliding apparatus of this organism and it is, at least, one of the genes that are directing cells to move in narrow circles when they glide. In the absence of MG_217 gene, cells are still able to glide but they mainly move drawing erratic or wide circular paths. This change in the gliding behaviour correlates with a rearrangement in the terminal organelle disposition, suggesting that the terminal organelle operates as a guide to steer the mycoplasma cell in a specific direction. Immunogold labelling reveals that MG217 protein is located intracellular at the distal end of the terminal organelle, between the cell membrane and the terminal button. Such location is consistent with the idea that MG217 could act as a modulator of the terminal organelle curvature, allowing cells to move in specific directions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology*
  • Cell Movement / genetics*
  • Gene Deletion*
  • Mycoplasma genitalium / genetics
  • Mycoplasma genitalium / pathogenicity*
  • Mycoplasma genitalium / ultrastructure*
  • Organelle Shape / genetics*
  • Protein Array Analysis
  • Virulence / genetics


  • Bacterial Proteins