Caister Academic Press

Social Interactions Mediated by Outer Membrane Exchange

Daniel Wall
from: Myxobacteria: Genomics, Cellular and Molecular Biology (Edited by: Zhaomin Yang and Penelope I. Higgs). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2014)


Myxobacteria are unusual because they exhibit complex social behaviors that involve cooperative cell-cell interactions to coordinate multicellular processes. The complexity of their social behaviors is mirrored by their genetic complexity; myxobacteria contain some of the largest known bacterial genomes. Other chapters in this book review cooperative behaviors of myxobacteria, include gliding motility and development. In this chapter, I will review our current understanding of a newly discovered social interaction whereby myxobacteria exchange their outer membrane (OM) proteins and lipids. The mechanism of transfer requires physical contact between aligned cells on hard surfaces. Transfer is mediated by OM fusion in which membrane contents laterally diffuse and are exchanged bidirectionally between cells. TraA and TraB are recently identified proteins that are required in donor and recipient cells for transfer to occur. OM exchange has phenotypic consequences that can alter cellular behaviors, including motility and development. Here I argue that OM exchange represents a new microbial platform whereby cells interact and communicate to coordinate multicellular activities read more ...
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