Flagella-independent surface motility in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium

Sun Yang Park, Mauricio H. Pontes, Eduardo A. Groisman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Flagella are multiprotein complexes necessary for swimming and swarming motility. In Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, flagella-mediated motility is repressed by the PhoP/PhoQ regulatory system. We now report that Salmonella can move on 0.3% agarose media in a flagella-independent manner when experiencing the PhoP/PhoQ-inducing signal low Mg2+. This motility requires the PhoP-activated mgtA, mgtC, and pagM genes, which specify a Mg2+ transporter, an inhibitor of Salmonella's own F1Fo ATPase, and a small protein of unknown function, respectively. The MgtA and MgtC proteins are necessary for pagM expression because pagM mRNA levels were lower in mgtA and mgtC mutants than in wild-type Salmonella, and also because pagM expression from a heterologous promoter rescued motility in mgtA and mgtC mutants. PagMpromotes groupmotility by a surface protein(s), as a pagM-expressing strain conferred motility upon a pagM null mutant, and proteinase K treatment eliminated motility. The pagM gene is rarely found outside subspecies I of S. enterica and often present in nonfunctional allelic forms in organisms lacking the identified motility. Deletion of the pagM gene reduced bacterial replication on 0.3% agarose low Mg2+ media but not in low Mg2+ liquid media. Our findings define a form of motility that allows Salmonella to scavenge nutrients and to escape toxic compounds in low Mg2+ semisolid environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1850-1855
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 10 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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