Identification and localization of flagellins FlaA and FlaB3 within flagella of Methanococcus voltae.
ABSTRACT: 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: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: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: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: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:Bacterial flagella are helical proteinaceous fibers, composed of the protein flagellin, that confer motility to many bacterial species. The genomes of about half of all flagellated species include more than one flagellin gene, for reasons mostly unknown. Here we show that two flagellins (FlaA and FlaB) are spatially arranged in the polar flagellum of Shewanella putrefaciens, with FlaA being more abundant close to the motor and FlaB in the remainder of the flagellar filament. Observations of swimming trajectories and numerical simulations demonstrate that this segmentation improves motility in a range of environmental conditions, compared to mutants with single-flagellin filaments. In particular, it facilitates screw-like motility, which enhances cellular spreading through obstructed environments. Similar mechanisms may apply to other bacterial species and may explain the maintenance of multiple flagellins to form the flagellar 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:Flagella-driven motility enables bacteria to reach their favorable niche within the host. The human foodborne pathogen Campylobacter jejuni produces two heavily glycosylated structural flagellins (FlaA and FlaB) that form the flagellar filament. It also encodes the non-structural FlaC flagellin which is secreted through the flagellum and has been implicated in host cell invasion. The mechanisms that regulate C. jejuni flagellin biogenesis and guide the proteins to the export apparatus are different from those in most other enteropathogens and are not fully understood. This work demonstrates the importance of the putative flagellar protein FliS in C. jejuni flagella assembly. A constructed fliS knockout strain was non-motile, displayed reduced levels of FlaA/B and FlaC flagellin, and carried severely truncated flagella. Pull-down and Far Western blot assays showed direct interaction of FliS with all three C. jejuni flagellins (FlaA, FlaB, and FlaC). This is in contrast to, the sensor and regulator of intracellular flagellin levels, FliW, which bound to FlaA and FlaB but not to FlaC. The FliS protein but not FliW preferred binding to glycosylated C. jejuni flagellins rather than to their non-glycosylated recombinant counterparts. Mapping of the binding region of FliS and FliW using a set of flagellin fragments showed that the C-terminal subdomain of the flagellin was required for FliS binding, whereas the N-terminal subdomain was essential for FliW binding. The separate binding subdomains required for FliS and FliW, the different substrate specificity, and the differential preference for binding of glycosylated flagellins ensure optimal processing and assembly of the C. jejuni flagellins.
Project description:Bacterial flagella play an essential role in the pathogenesis of numerous enteric pathogens. The flagellum is required for motility, colonization, and in some instances, for the secretion of effector proteins. In contrast to the intensively studied flagella of Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium, the flagella of Campylobacter jejuni, Helicobacter pylori and Vibrio cholerae are less well characterized and composed of multiple flagellin subunits. This study was performed to gain a better understanding of flagellin export from the flagellar type III secretion apparatus of C. jejuni. The flagellar filament of C. jejuni is comprised of two flagellins termed FlaA and FlaB. We demonstrate that the amino-termini of FlaA and FlaB determine the length of the flagellum and motility of C. jejuni. We also demonstrate that protein-specific residues in the amino-terminus of FlaA and FlaB dictate export efficiency from the flagellar type III secretion system (T3SS) of Yersinia enterocolitica. These findings demonstrate that key residues within the amino-termini of two nearly identical proteins influence protein export efficiency, and that the mechanism governing the efficiency of protein export is conserved among two pathogens belonging to distinct bacterial classes. These findings are of additional interest because C. jejuni utilizes the flagellum to export virulence proteins.
Project description:Unlike external flagellated bacteria, spirochetes have periplasmic flagella (PF). Very little is known about how PF are assembled within the periplasm of spirochaetal cells. Herein, we report that FliD (BB0149), a flagellar cap protein (also named hook-associated protein 2), controls flagellin stability and flagellar filament assembly in the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. Deletion of fliD leads to non-motile mutant cells that are unable to assemble flagellar filaments and pentagon-shaped caps (10 nm in diameter, 12 nm in length). Interestingly, FlaB, a major flagellin protein of B. burgdorferi, is degraded in the fliD mutant but not in other flagella-deficient mutants (i.e., in the hook, rod, or MS-ring). Biochemical and genetic studies reveal that HtrA, a serine protease of B. burgdorferi, controls FlaB turnover. Specifically, HtrA degrades unfolded but not polymerized FlaB, and deletion of htrA increases the level of FlaB in the fliD mutant. Collectively, we propose that the flagellar cap protein FliD promotes flagellin polymerization and filament growth in the periplasm. Deletion of fliD abolishes this process, which leads to leakage of unfolded FlaB proteins into the periplasm where they are degraded by HtrA, a protease that prevents accumulation of toxic products in the periplasm.
Project description:Nearly half of flagellated microorganisms possess a multiple-flagellin system. Although a functional filament can be formed from one of multiple flagellins alone in many bacteria, it is more common that one flagellin is the major constituent and others contribute. Underlying mechanisms proposed for such scenarios cover flagellin regulation of various levels, including transcription, translation, post-translational modification, secretion, and filament assembly. In Shewanella oneidensis, the flagellar filament is composed of FlaA and FlaB flagellins; the latter is the major one in terms of motility. In this study, we showed that regulation of all levels except for filament assembly is indistinguishable between these two flagellins. Further analyses revealed that two amino acid residues predominantly dictated functional difference with respect to motility. Given that Shewanella prefer a solid surface-associated life style, of which filaments consisting of either FlaA or FlaB are equally supportive, we envision that roles of flagella in surface adhesion and formation of bacterial communities are particularly important for their survival and proliferation in these specific niches.