The type IV pilus assembly ATPase PilB functions as a signaling protein to regulate exopolysaccharide production in Myxococcus xanthus


Myxococcus xanthus possesses a form of surface motility powered by the retraction of the type IV pilus (T4P). Additionally, exopolysaccharide (EPS), the major constituent of bacterial biofilms, is required for this T4P-mediated motility in M. xanthus as the putative trigger of T4P retraction. The results here demonstrate that the T4P assembly ATPase PilB functions as an intermediary in the EPS regulatory pathway composed of the T4P upstream of the Dif signaling proteins in M. xanthus. A suppressor screen isolated a pilB mutation that restored EPS production to a T4P− mutant. An additional PilB mutant variant, which is deficient in ATP hydrolysis and T4P assembly, supports EPS production without the T4P, indicating PilB can regulate EPS production independently of its function in T4P assembly. Further analysis confirms that PilB functions downstream of the T4P filament but upstream of the Dif proteins. In vitro studies suggest that the nucleotide-free form of PilB assumes the active signaling conformation in EPS regulation. Since M. xanthus PilB possesses conserved motifs with high affinity for c-di-GMP binding, the findings here suggest that c-di-GMP can regulate both motility and biofilm formation through a single effector in this surface-motile bacterium.



social gliding motility, cyclic di-gmp, focal adhesion complexes, molecular-mechanism, chemotaxis homologs, cell-interactions, myxobacteria, retraction, insights, bacteria