Mycoplasma pneumoniae cytadherence: unravelling the tie that binds

Mol Microbiol. 1996 Apr;20(2):247-53. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.1996.tb02613.x.


Mycoplasma pneumoniae is the leading cause of pneumonia in older children and young adults. Mycoplasma adherence to the respiratory epithelium (cytadherence) is required for colonization and pathogenesis. Although considered to be among the smallest and simplest known prokaryotes, this cell-wall-less bacterium possesses a highly differentiated terminal structure that is thought to be functional in mycoplasma cell division, gliding motility, and cytadherence. Mutant analysis has identified mycoplasma proteins associated with cytadherence, and revealed novel regulatory features. Ultrastructural and biochemical studies have established the subcellular location and interaction of key components, several of which are phosphorylated by ATP-dependent kinase(s) in a manner that is responsive to changing nutritional conditions. This review summarizes recent progress in defining the composition, organization and regulation of the attachment organelle. What emerges is a picture of M. pneumoniae cytadherence as a multifactorial process that extends well beyond adhesin-receptor recognition.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adhesins, Bacterial / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Adhesion*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae / genetics
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae / metabolism*


  • Adhesins, Bacterial