The spirochete FlaA periplasmic flagellar sheath protein impacts flagellar helicity.
ABSTRACT: Spirochete periplasmic flagella (PFs), including those from Brachyspira (Serpulina), Spirochaeta, Treponema, and Leptospira spp., have a unique structure. In most spirochete species, the periplasmic flagellar filaments consist of a core of at least three proteins (FlaB1, FlaB2, and FlaB3) and a sheath protein (FlaA). Each of these proteins is encoded by a separate gene. Using Brachyspira hyodysenteriae as a model system for analyzing PF function by allelic exchange mutagenesis, we analyzed purified PFs from previously constructed flaA::cat, flaA::kan, and flaB1::kan mutants and newly constructed flaB2::cat and flaB3::cat mutants. We investigated whether any of these mutants had a loss of motility and altered PF structure. As formerly found with flaA::cat, flaA::kan, and flaB1::kan mutants, flaB2::cat and flaB3::cat mutants were still motile, but all were less motile than the wild-type strain, using a swarm-plate assay. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and Western blot analysis indicated that each mutation resulted in the specific loss of the cognate gene product in the assembled purified PFs. Consistent with these results, Northern blot analysis indicated that each flagellar filament gene was monocistronic. In contrast to previous results that analyzed PFs attached to disrupted cells, purified PFs from a flaA::cat mutant were significantly thinner (19.6 nm) than those of the wild-type strain and flaB1::kan, flaB2::cat, and flaB3::cat mutants (24 to 25 nm). These results provide supportive genetic evidence that FlaA forms a sheath around the FlaB core. Using high-magnification dark-field microscopy, we also found that flaA::cat and flaA::kan mutants produced PFs with a smaller helix pitch and helix diameter compared to the wild-type strain and flaB mutants. These results indicate that the interaction of FlaA with the FlaB core impacts periplasmic flagellar helical morphology.
Project description:The expression of flagellin genes in most bacteria is typically regulated by the flagellum-specific sigma(28) factor FliA, and an anti-sigma(28) factor, FlgM. However, the regulatory hierarchy in several bacteria that have multiple flagellins is more complex. In these bacteria, the flagellin genes are often transcribed by at least two different sigma factors. The flagellar filament in spirochetes consists of one to three FlaB core proteins and at least one FlaA sheath protein. Here, the genetically amenable bacterium Brachyspira hyodysenteriae was used as a model spirochete to investigate the regulation of its four flagellin genes, flaA, flaB1, flaB2, and flaB3. We found that the flaB1 and flaB2 genes are regulated by sigma(28), whereas the flaA and flaB3 genes are controlled by sigma(70). The analysis of a flagellar motor switch fliG mutant further supported this proposition; in the mutant, the transcription of flaB1 and flaB2 was inhibited, but that of flaA and flaB3 was not. In addition, the continued expression of flaA and flaB3 in the mutant resulted in the formation of incomplete flagellar filaments that were hollow tubes and consisted primarily of FlaA. Finally, our recent studies have shown that each flagellin unit contributes to the stiffness of the periplasmic flagella, and this stiffness directly correlates with motility. The regulatory mechanism identified here should allow spirochetes to change the relative ratio of these flagellin proteins and, concomitantly, vary the stiffness of their flagellar filament.
Project description:Methanococcus voltae possesses four flagellin genes, two of which (flaB1 and flaB2) have previously been reported to encode major components of the flagellar filament. The remaining two flagellin genes, flaA and flaB3, are transcribed at lower levels, and the corresponding proteins remained undetected prior to this work. Electron microscopy examination of flagella isolated by detergent extraction of whole cells revealed a curved, hook-like region of varying length at the end of a long filament. Enrichment of the curved region of the flagella resulted in the identification of FlaB3 by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and N-terminal sequencing, and the localization of this flagellin to the cell-proximal portion of the flagellum was confirmed through immunoblotting and immunoelectron microscopy with FlaB3-specific antibodies, indicating that FlaB3 likely composes the curved portion of the flagella. This could represent a unique case of a flagellin performing the role of the bacterial hook protein. FlaA-specific antibodies were used in immunoblotting to determine that FlaA is found throughout the flagellar filament. M. voltae cells were transformed with a modified flaA gene containing a hemagglutinin (HA) tag introduced into the variable region. Transformants that had replaced the wild-type copy of the flaA gene with the HA-tagged version incorporated the HA-tagged version of FlaA into flagella which appeared normal by electron microscopy.
Project description:Leptospira spp. are spirochete bacteria that possess periplasmic flagella (PFs) underneath the outer membrane; each flagellum is attached to each end of the protoplasmic cylinder. PFs of Leptospira have a coiled shape that bends the end of the cell body. However, the molecular mechanism by which multiple flagellar proteins organize to form the distinctively curled PF of Leptospira remains unclear. Here we obtained a slow-motility mutant of L. biflexa MD4-3 by random insertion mutagenesis using a Himar1 transposon. In MD4-3, the gene encoding the flagellar sheath protein, flagellar-coiling protein A (FcpA), which was recently identified in L. interrogans, was inactivated. As with L. interrogans ?fcpA strains, the L. biflexa ?fcpA strain lacked a distinct curvature at both ends of the cell body, and its motility was significantly reduced as compared with that of the wild-type strain. PFs isolated from the ?fcpA strain were straight and were thinner than those isolated from the wild-type strain. Western blot analysis revealed that flagellar proteins FlaA1, FlaA2, FlaB1, and FlaB2 were expressed in the ?fcpA strain but the flagellar proteins, except for FlaB2 were not incorporated in its PFs. Immunoprecipitation assay using anti-FcpA antiserum demonstrated that FcpA associates with FlaA2 and FlaB1. The association between FcpA and FlaA2 was also verified using pull-down assay. The regions of FlaA2 and FlaB1 interacting with FcpA were determined using a bacterial two-hybrid assay. These results suggest that FcpA together with FlaA2, produces coiling of PF of the Leptospira, and the interaction between the sheath and core filament may be mediated by FcpA and FlaB1.
Project description:The spirochete which causes Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, has many features common to other spirochete species. Outermost is a membrane sheath, and within this sheath are the cell cylinder and periplasmic flagella (PFs). The PFs are subterminally attached to the cell cylinder and overlap in the center of the cell. Most descriptions of the B. burgdorferi flagellar filaments indicate that these organelles consist of only one flagellin protein (FlaB). In contrast, the PFs from other spirochete species are comprised of an outer layer of FlaA and a core of FlaB. We recently found that a flaA homolog was expressed in B. burgdorferi and that it mapped in a fla/che operon. These results led us to analyze the PFs and FlaA of B. burgdorferi in detail. Using Triton X-100 to remove the outer membrane and isolate the PFs, we found that the 38.0-kDa FlaA protein purified with the PFs in association with the 41.0-kDa FlaB protein. On the other hand, purifying the PFs by using Sarkosyl resulted in no FlaA in the isolated PFs. Sarkosyl has been used by others to purify B. burgdorferi PFs, and our results explain in part their failure to find FlaA. Unlike other spirochetes, B. burgdorferi FlaA was expressed at a lower level than FlaB. In characterizing FlaA, we found that it was posttranslationally modified by glycosylation, and thus it resembles its counterpart from Serpulina hyodysenteriae. We also tested if FlaA was synthesized in a spontaneously occurring PF mutant of B. burgdorferi (HB19Fla-). Although this mutant still synthesized flaA message in amounts similar to the wild-type amounts, it failed to synthesize FlaA protein. These results suggest that, in agreement with data found for FlaB and other spirochete flagellar proteins, FlaA is likely to be regulated on the translational level. Western blot analysis using Treponema pallidum anti-FlaA serum indicated that FlaA was antigenically well conserved in several spirochete species. Taken together, the results indicate that both FlaA and FlaB comprise the PFs of B. burgdorferi and that they are regulated differently from flagellin proteins of other bacteria.
Project description:Campylobacter coli VC167 T2 has two flagellin genes, flaA and flaB, which share 91.9% sequence identity. The flaA gene is transcribed from a o-28 promoter, and the flaB gene from a o-54 promoter. Gene replacement mutagenesis techniques were used to generate flaA+ flaB and flaA flaB+ mutants. Both gene products are capable of assembling independently into functional filaments. A flagellar filament composed exclusively of the flaA gene product is indistinguishable in length from that of the wild type and shows a slight reduction in motility. The flagellar filament composed exclusively of the flaB gene product is severely truncated in length and greatly reduced in motility. Thus, while both flagellins are not necessary for motility, both products are required for a fully active flagellar filament. Although the wild-type flagellar filament is a heteropolymer of the flaA and flaB gene products, immunogold electron microscopy suggests that flaB epitopes are poorly surface exposed along the length of the wild-type filament.
Project description:Helicobacter mustelae causes chronic gastritis and ulcer disease in ferrets. It is therefore considered an important animal model of human Helicobacter pylori infection. High motility even in a viscous environment is one of the common virulence determinants of Helicobacter species. Their sheathed flagella contain a complex filament that is composed of two distinctly different flagellin subunits, FlaA and FlaB, that are coexpressed in different amounts. Here, we report the cloning and sequence determination of the flaA gene of H. mustelae NCTC12032 from a PCR amplification product. The FlaA protein has a calculated molecular mass of 53 kDa and is 73% homologous to the H. pylori FlaA subunit. Isogenic flaA and flaB mutants of H. mustelae F1 were constructed by means of reverse genetics. A method was established to generate double mutants (flaA flaB) of H. mustelae F1 as well as H. pylori N6. Genotypes, motility properties, and morphologies of the H. mustelae flagellin mutants were determined and compared with those of the H. pylori flaA and flaB mutants described previously. The flagellar organizations of the two Helicobacter species proved to be highly similar. When the flaB genes were disrupted, motility decreased by 30 to 40%. flaA mutants retained weak motility by comparison with strains that were devoid of both flagellin subunits. Weakly positive motility tests of the flaA mutants correlated with the existence of short truncated flagella. In H. mustelae, lateral as well as polar flagella were present in the truncated form. flaA flaB double mutants were completely nonmotile and lacked any form of flagella. These results show that the presence of both flagellin subunits is necessary for complete motility of Helicobacter species. The importance of this flagellar organization for the ability of the bacteria to colonize the gastric mucosa and to persist in the gastric mucus remains to be proven.
Project description:Rotary flagella propel bacteria through liquid and across semisolid environments. Flagella are composed of the basal body that constitutes the motor for rotation, the curved hook that connects to the basal body, and the flagellar filament that propels the cell. Flagellar filaments can be composed of a single flagellin protein, such as in Escherichia coli, or made up of multiple flagellins, such as in Agrobacterium tumefaciens The four distinct flagellins FlaA, FlaB, FlaC, and FlaD produced by wild-type A. tumefaciens are not redundant in function but have specific properties. FlaA and FlaB are much more abundant than FlaC and FlaD and are readily observable in mature flagellar filaments, when either FlaA or FlaB is fluorescently labeled. Cells producing FlaA with any one of the other three flagellins can generate functional filaments and thus are motile, but FlaA alone cannot constitute a functional filament. In flaA mutants that manifest swimming deficiencies, there are multiple ways by which these mutations can be phenotypically suppressed. These suppressor mutations primarily occur within or upstream of the flaB flagellin gene or in the transcription factor sciP regulating flagellin expression. The helical conformation of the flagellar filament appears to require a key asparagine residue present in FlaA and absent in other flagellins. However, FlaB can be spontaneously mutated to render helical flagella in the absence of FlaA, reflecting their overall similarity and perhaps the subtle differences in the specific functions they have evolved to fulfill.IMPORTANCE Flagellins are abundant bacterial proteins comprising the flagellar filaments that propel bacterial movement. Several members of the alphaproteobacterial group express multiple flagellins, in contrast to model systems, such as with Escherichia coli, which has one type of flagellin. The plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens has four flagellins, the abundant and readily detected FlaA and FlaB, and lower levels of FlaC and FlaD. Mutational analysis reveals that FlaA requires at least one of the other flagellins to function, as flaA mutants produce nonhelical flagella and cannot swim efficiently. Suppressor mutations can rescue this swimming defect through mutations in the remaining flagellins, including structural changes imparting helical shape to the flagella, and putative regulators. Our findings shed light on how multiple flagellins contribute to motility.
Project description:The overproduction of flagella is a distinguishing characteristic of Proteus mirabilis swarmer cell differentiation. The synthesis of flagellin, the principal protein composing the flagellar filament, is coordinately regulated as part of a larger regulon of genes whose expression is a prerequisite in urinary pathogenesis. In this report, the regulation of expression of the flaA locus, comprising flaA and flaB, two tandemly linked and nearly identical copies of flagellin-encoding genes, is examined. Transcriptional expression studies reveal that flaA, but not flaB, is expressed by wild-type cells, and flaA transcription increases eightfold during differentiation. The flaA transcriptional start site for both swimmer and swarmer cells was determined to be located at a guanine, 8 bases downstream of the flaA sigma 28 promoter. FlaA- mutants are nonmotile and undifferentiated and do not synthesize flagellin, while FlaB- mutants are wild type, thus verifying that FlaA is the sole flagellin produced by wild-type cells and that flaB is silent. FlaA- mutants frequently revert to a Mot+ phenotype that is antigenically distinct from that of wild-type cells. Southern blot analysis of the flaA Mot+ revertants reveals a deletion of between 2 and 7kb in the flaA locus. Biochemical analyses of revertant flagellin indicate major changes in protein size and composition but conservation of the first 28 N-terminal residues. The result of this process is to produce an antigenically distinct flagellum that may be significant in ensuring the survival of P. mirabilis during pathogenesis.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae establishes symbiotic nitrogen fixing partnerships with plant species belonging to the Tribe Vicieae, which includes the genera Vicia, Lathyrus, Pisum and Lens. Motility and chemotaxis are important in the ecology of R. leguminosarum to provide a competitive advantage during the early steps of nodulation, but the mechanisms of motility and flagellar assembly remain poorly studied. This paper addresses the role of the seven flagellin genes in producing a functional flagellum. RESULTS: R. leguminosarum strains 3841 and VF39SM have seven flagellin genes (flaA, flaB, flaC, flaD, flaE, flaH, and flaG), which are transcribed separately. The predicted flagellins of 3841 are highly similar or identical to the corresponding flagellins in VF39SM. flaA, flaB, flaC, and flaD are in tandem array and are located in the main flagellar gene cluster. flaH and flaG are located outside of the flagellar/motility region while flaE is plasmid-borne. Five flagellin subunits (FlaA, FlaB, FlaC, FlaE, and FlaG) are highly similar to each other, whereas FlaD and FlaH are more distantly related. All flagellins exhibit conserved amino acid residues at the N- and C-terminal ends and are variable in the central regions. Strain 3841 has 1-3 plain subpolar flagella while strain VF39SM exhibits 4-7 plain peritrichous flagella. Three flagellins (FlaA/B/C) and five flagellins (FlaA/B/C/E/G) were detected by mass spectrometry in the flagellar filaments of strains 3841 and VF39SM, respectively. Mutation of flaA resulted in non-motile VF39SM and extremely reduced motility in 3841. Individual mutations of flaB and flaC resulted in shorter flagellar filaments and consequently reduced swimming and swarming motility for both strains. Mutant VF39SM strains carrying individual mutations in flaD, flaE, flaH, and flaG were not significantly affected in motility and filament morphology. The flagellar filament and the motility of 3841 strains with mutations in flaD and flaG were not significantly affected while flaE and flaH mutants exhibited shortened filaments and reduced swimming motility. CONCLUSION: The results obtained from this study demonstrate that FlaA, FlaB, and FlaC are major components of the flagellar filament while FlaD and FlaG are minor components for R. leguminosarum strains 3841 and VF39SM. We also observed differences between the two strains, wherein FlaE and FlaH appear to be minor components of the flagellar filaments in VF39SM but these flagellin subunits may play more important roles in 3841. This paper also demonstrates that the flagellins of 3841 and VF39SM are possibly glycosylated.
Project description:Flagellar biogenesis in Helicobacter pylori is regulated by a transcriptional hierarchy governed by three sigma factors, RpoD (?(80)), RpoN (?(54)), and FliA (?(28)), that temporally coordinates gene expression with the assembly of the flagellum. Previous studies showed that loss of flagellar protein export apparatus components inhibits transcription of flagellar genes. The FlgS/FlgR two-component system activates transcription of RpoN-dependent genes though an unknown mechanism. To understand better the extent to which flagellar gene regulation is coupled to flagellar assembly, we disrupted flagellar biogenesis at various points and determined how these mutations affected transcription of RpoN-dependent (flaB and flgE) and FliA-dependent (flaA) genes. The MS ring (encoded by fliF) is one of the earliest flagellar structures assembled. Deletion of fliF resulted in the elimination of RpoN-dependent transcripts and an ?4-fold decrease in flaA transcript levels. FliH is a cytoplasmic protein that functions with the C ring protein FliN to shuttle substrates to the export apparatus. Deletions of fliH and genes encoding C ring components (fliM and fliY) decreased transcript levels of flaB and flgE but had little or no effect on transcript levels of flaA. Transcript levels of flaB and flgE were elevated in mutants where genes encoding rod proteins (fliE and flgBC) were deleted, while transcript levels of flaA was reduced ?2-fold in both mutants. We propose that FlgS responds to an assembly checkpoint associated with the export apparatus and that FliH and one or more C ring component assist FlgS in engaging this flagellar structure.The mechanisms used by bacteria to couple transcription of flagellar genes with assembly of the flagellum are poorly understood. The results from this study identified components of the H. pylori flagellar basal body that either positively or negatively affect expression of RpoN-dependent flagellar genes. Some of these basal body proteins may interact directly with regulatory proteins that control transcription of the H. pylori RpoN regulon, a hypothesis that can be tested by examining protein-protein interactions in vitro.