Myxobacterial Vesicles: Death at a Distance?

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Outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) are produced from the outer membrane (OM) of myxobacterial cells and are found in large quantities within myxobacterial biofilms. It has been proposed that OMVs are involved in several of the social behaviors exhibited by the myxobacteria, including motility and predation. Proteomic data suggest that specific proteins are either selectively incorporated into or excluded from myxobacterial OMVs, as observed for OMVs of other organisms. Hydrolases are found in large numbers in OMVs, which then transport them to target bacteria. Fusion of OMVs with the OM of Gram-negative cells, or lysis of OMVs next to Gram-positive bacteria, is thought to deliver hydrolases to target cells, causing their lysis. The model myxobacterium Myxococcus xanthus is a predator of other bacteria, and OMVs are likely employed as predatory agents by this organism. The transfer of motility proteins between cells of M. xanthus has been documented, and OMV-mediated transfer provides a convenient mechanism to explain this phenomenon. This review describes the general principles of OMV biology, provides an overview of myxobacterial behavior, summarizes what is currently known about myxobacterial OMVs, and discusses the potential involvement of OMVs in many features of the myxobacterial life-cycle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalAdvances in Applied Microbiology
Early online date30 Jul 2011
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2011


  • OMV
  • outer membrane vesicles
  • myxococcus xanthus
  • sorangium cellulosum
  • predation
  • multicellular development
  • differentiation
  • motility


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