The bacterium Myxococcus xanthus has two motility systems: S motility, which is powered by type IV pilus retraction, and A motility, which is powered by unknown mechanism(s). We found that A motility involved transient adhesion complexes that remained at fixed positions relative to the substratum as cells moved forward. Complexes assembled at leading cell poles and dispersed at the rear of the cells. When cells reversed direction, the A-motility clusters relocalized to the new leading poles together with S-motility proteins. The Frz chemosensory system coordinated the two motility systems. The dynamics of protein cluster localization suggest that intracellular motors and force transmission by dynamic focal adhesions can power bacterial motility.
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