Gliding motility and Por secretion system genes are widespread among members of the phylum bacteroidetes

J Bacteriol. 2013 Jan;195(2):270-8. doi: 10.1128/JB.01962-12. Epub 2012 Nov 2.


The phylum Bacteroidetes is large and diverse, with rapid gliding motility and the ability to digest macromolecules associated with many genera and species. Recently, a novel protein secretion system, the Por secretion system (PorSS), was identified in two members of the phylum, the gliding bacterium Flavobacterium johnsoniae and the nonmotile oral pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis. The components of the PorSS are not similar in sequence to those of other well-studied bacterial secretion systems. The F. johnsoniae PorSS genes are a subset of the gliding motility genes, suggesting a role for the secretion system in motility. The F. johnsoniae PorSS is needed for assembly of the gliding motility apparatus and for secretion of a chitinase, and the P. gingivalis PorSS is involved in secretion of gingipain protease virulence factors. Comparative analysis of 37 genomes of members of the phylum Bacteroidetes revealed the widespread occurrence of gliding motility genes and PorSS genes. Genes associated with other bacterial protein secretion systems were less common. The results suggest that gliding motility is more common than previously reported. Microscopic observations confirmed that organisms previously described as nonmotile, including Croceibacter atlanticus, "Gramella forsetii," Paludibacter propionicigenes, Riemerella anatipestifer, and Robiginitalea biformata, exhibit gliding motility. Three genes (gldA, gldF, and gldG) that encode an apparent ATP-binding cassette transporter required for F. johnsoniae gliding were absent from two related gliding bacteria, suggesting that the transporter may not be central to gliding motility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Secretion Systems*
  • Bacteroidetes / genetics
  • Bacteroidetes / metabolism
  • Bacteroidetes / physiology*
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Locomotion*
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Molecular
  • Virulence Factors / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Bacterial Secretion Systems
  • Virulence Factors