has a flask-shaped cell morphology and glides toward its tapered end at a rate of 3–7 cell lengths per s (2·0–4·5 μm s) by an unknown mechanism. Gliding requires that the surface of the cell is in contact with a solid substrate, such as glass or plastic. In order to characterize the nature of the outer surface of , monoclonal antibodies were raised against intact cells and screened for their ability to recognize surface proteins. Four antibodies were identified and their protein targets were determined. One antibody recognized the Gli349 protein, which is known to be involved in glass binding and gliding. This antibody was also able to displace attached cells from glass, suggesting that Gli349 is the major adhesion protein in . The other three antibodies recognized members of the Mvsp family of proteins, which are presumably the major surface antigens of . Immunofluorescence studies were performed to localize these proteins on the surface of cells. Gli349 localized to the proximal region of the tapered part of the cell (the ‘neck’), while the various Mvsp family members showed several distinct patterns of subcellular localization. MvspN and MvspO localized to the distal end of the tapered part of the cell (the ‘head’), MvspK localized to the main part of the cell (the ‘body’), and MvspI localized to both the head and body but not the neck. This analysis shows that surprisingly expresses multiple versions of its major surface antigen at once but differentiates its surface by differential localization of the various paralogues.


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