Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

The rate of actin-based motility of intracellular Listeria monocytogenes equals the rate of actin polymerization

Abstract

THE Gram-positive bacterium Listeria monocytogenes is a facultative intracellular pathogen capable of rapid movement through the host cell cytoplasm1. The biophysical basis of the motility of L. monocytogenes is an interesting question in its own right, the answer to which may shed light on the general processes of actin-based motility in cells. Moving intracellular bacteria display phase-dense 'comet tails' made of actin filaments, the formation of which is required for bacterial motility2,3. We have investigated the dynamics of the actin filaments in the comet tails using the technique of photoactivation of fluorescence, which allows monitoring of the movement and turnover of labelled actin filaments after activation by illumination with ultraviolet light. We find that the actin filaments remain stationary in the cytoplasm as the bacterium moves forward, and that length of the comet tails is linearly proportional to the rate of movement. Our results imply that the motile mechanism involves continuous polymerization and release of actin filaments at the bacterial surface and that the rate of filament generation is related to the rate of movement. We suggest that actin polymerization provides the driving force for bacterial propulsion.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. Dabiri, G. A., Sanger, J. M., Portnoy, D. A. & Southwick, F. S. Proc, natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 87, 6068–6072 (1990).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Tilney, L. G. & Portnoy, D. A. J. Cell. Biol. 109, 1597–1608 (1989).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Tilney, L. G., Connelly, P. S. & Portnoy, D. A. J. Cell Biol. 111, 2979–2988 (1990).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Theriot, J. A. & Mitchison, T. J. Nature 352, 126–131 (1991).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Mitchison, T. J. J. Cell Biol. 109, 637–652 (1989)

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Egelman, E. H., Francis, N. & DeRosier, D. D. Nature 298, 131–135 (1982).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Pollard, T. D. J. Cell Biol. 103, 2747–2754 (1986).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Sanger, J. M., Mittal, B., Southwick, F. S. & Sanger, J. W. J. Cell Biol. 111, 415a (1990).

    Google Scholar 

  9. Tilney, L. G., DeRosier, D. J., Weber, A. & Tilney, M. S. J. Cell Biol. (in the press).

  10. Sanders, M. S. & Wang, Y.-L. J. Cell Biol. 110, 359–365 (1990).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Kocks, C. et al. Cell 68, 521–531 (1992).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Hill, T. L. & Kirschner, M. W. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 79, 490–494 (1982).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Oster, G. F. & Perelson, A. S. J. Cell Sci. Suppl. 8, 35–54 (1988).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Theriot, J., Mitchison, T., Tilney, L. et al. The rate of actin-based motility of intracellular Listeria monocytogenes equals the rate of actin polymerization. Nature 357, 257–260 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1038/357257a0

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/357257a0

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing