The Major Outer Membrane Protein MopB Is Required for Twitching Movement and Affects Biofilm Formation and Virulence in Two Xylella fastidiosa strains
MopB is a major outer membrane protein (OMP) in Xylella fastidiosa, a bacterial plant pathogen that causes losses on many economically important crops. Based on in silico analysis, the uncharacterized MopB protein of X. fastidiosa contains a b-barrel structure with an OmpA-like domain and a predicted calcium-binding motif. Here, MopB function was studied by mutational analysis taking advantage of the natural competence of X. fastidiosa. Mutants of mopB were constructed in two different X. fastidiosa strains, the type strain Temecula and the more virulent WM1-1. Deletion of the mopB gene impaired cell-to-cell aggregation, surface attachment, and biofilm formation in both strains. Interestingly, mopB deletion completely abolished twitching motility. Electron microscopy of the bacterial cell surface revealed that mopB deletion eliminated type IV and type I pili formation, potentially caused by destabilization of the outer membrane. Both mopB mutants showed reduced virulence using tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) as a host under greenhouse conditions. These results suggest that MopB has pleiotropic functions in biofilm formation and twitching motility and is important for virulence of X. fastidiosa.