Bacterial flagella grow through an injection-diffusion mechanism.
ABSTRACT: The bacterial flagellum is a self-assembling nanomachine. The external flagellar filament, several times longer than a bacterial cell body, is made of a few tens of thousands subunits of a single protein: flagellin. A fundamental problem concerns the molecular mechanism of how the flagellum grows outside the cell, where no discernible energy source is available. Here, we monitored the dynamic assembly of individual flagella using in situ labelling and real-time immunostaining of elongating flagellar filaments. We report that the rate of flagellum growth, initially ?1,700 amino acids per second, decreases with length and that the previously proposed chain mechanism does not contribute to the filament elongation dynamics. Inhibition of the proton motive force-dependent export apparatus revealed a major contribution of substrate injection in driving filament elongation. The combination of experimental and mathematical evidence demonstrates that a simple, injection-diffusion mechanism controls bacterial flagella growth outside the cell.
Project description:The bacterial flagellum is a helical filamentous organelle responsible for motility. In bacterial species possessing flagella at the cell exterior, the long helical flagellar filament acts as a molecular screw to generate thrust. Meanwhile, the flagella of spirochetes reside within the periplasmic space and not only act as a cytoskeleton to determine the helicity of the cell body, but also rotate or undulate the helical cell body for propulsion. Despite structural diversity of the flagella among bacterial species, flagellated bacteria share a common rotary nanomachine, namely the flagellar motor, which is located at the base of the filament. The flagellar motor is composed of a rotor ring complex and multiple transmembrane stator units and converts the ion flux through an ion channel of each stator unit into the mechanical work required for motor rotation. Intracellular chemotactic signaling pathways regulate the direction of flagella-driven motility in response to changes in the environments, allowing bacteria to migrate towards more desirable environments for their survival. Recent experimental and theoretical studies have been deepening our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of the flagellar motor. In this review article, we describe the current understanding of the structure and dynamics of the bacterial flagellum.
Project description:The bacterial flagellum is a large extracellular protein organelle that extrudes from the cell surface. The flagellar filament is assembled from tens of thousands of flagellin subunits that are exported through the flagellar type III secretion system. Here, we measure the growth of Escherichia coli flagella in real time and find that, although the growth rate displays large variations at similar lengths, it decays on average as flagella lengthen. By tracking single flagella, we show that the large variations in growth rate occur as a result of frequent pauses. Furthermore, different flagella on the same cell show variable growth rates with correlation. Our observations are consistent with an injection-diffusion model, and we propose that an insufficient cytoplasmic flagellin supply is responsible for the pauses in flagellar growth in E. coli.
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:Flagella are crucial for bacterial motility and pathogenesis. The flagellar capping protein (FliD) regulates filament assembly by chaperoning and sorting flagellin (FliC) proteins after they traverse the hollow filament and exit the growing flagellum tip. In the absence of FliD, flagella are not formed, resulting in impaired motility and infectivity. Here, we report the 2.2 Å resolution X-ray crystal structure of FliD from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the first high-resolution structure of any FliD protein from any bacterium. Using this evidence in combination with a multitude of biophysical and functional analyses, we find that Pseudomonas FliD exhibits unexpected structural similarity to other flagellar proteins at the domain level, adopts a unique hexameric oligomeric state, and depends on flexible determinants for oligomerization. Considering that the flagellin filaments on which FliD oligomers are affixed vary in protofilament number between bacteria, our results suggest that FliD oligomer stoichiometries vary across bacteria to complement their filament assemblies.
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:The bacterial flagellum is a highly complex prokaryotic organelle. It is the motor that drives bacterial motility, and despite the large amount of energy required to make and operate flagella, motile organisms have a strong adaptive advantage. Flagellar biogenesis is both complex and highly coordinated and it typically involves at least three two-component systems. Part of the flagellum is a type III secretion system, and it is via this structure that flagellar components are exported. The assembly of a flagellum occurs in a number of stages, and the "checkpoint control" protein FliK functions in this process by detecting when the flagellar hook substructure has reached its optimal length. FliK then terminates hook export and assembly and transmits a signal to begin filament export, the final stage in flagellar biosynthesis. As yet the exact mechanism of how FliK achieves this is not known. Here we review what is known of the FliK protein and discuss the evidence for and against the various hypotheses that have been proposed in recent years to explain how FliK controls hook length, FliK as a molecular ruler, the measuring cup theory, the role of the FliK N terminus, the infrequent molecular ruler theory, and the molecular clock theory.
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:Vibrio parahaemolyticus possesses two alternate flagellar systems adapted for movement under different circumstances. A single polar flagellum propels the bacterium in liquid (swimming), while multiple lateral flagella move the bacterium over surfaces (swarming). Energy to rotate the polar flagellum is derived from the sodium membrane potential, whereas lateral flagella are powered by the proton motive force. Lateral flagella are arranged peritrichously, and the unsheathed filaments are polymerized from a single flagellin. The polar flagellum is synthesized constitutively, but lateral flagella are produced only under conditions in which the polar flagellum is not functional, e.g., on surfaces. This work initiates characterization of the sheathed, polar flagellum. Four genes encoding flagellins were cloned and found to map in two loci. These genes, as well as three genes encoding proteins resembling HAPs (hook-associated proteins), were sequenced. A potential consensus polar flagellar promoter was identified by using upstream sequences from seven polar genes. It resembled the enterobacterial sigma 28 consensus promoter. Three of the four flagellin genes were expressed in Escherichia coli, and expression was dependent on the product of the fliA gene encoding sigma 28. The fourth flagellin gene may be different regulated. It was not expressed in E. coli, and inspection of upstream sequence revealed a potential sigma 54 consensus promoter. Mutants with single and multiple defects in flagellin genes were constructed in order to determine assembly rules for filament polymerization. HAP mutants displayed new phenotypes, which were different from those of Salmonella typhimurium and most probably were the result of the filament being sheathed.
Project description:The predatory bacterium Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus swims rapidly by rotation of a single, polar flagellum comprised of a helical filament of flagellin monomers, contained within a membrane sheath and powered by a basal motor complex. Bdellovibrio collides with, enters and replicates within bacterial prey, a process previously suggested to firstly require flagellar motility and then flagellar shedding upon prey entry. Here we show that flagella are not always shed upon prey entry and we study the six fliC flagellin genes of B. bacteriovorus, finding them all conserved and expressed in genome strain HD100 and the widely studied lab strain 109J. Individual inactivation of five of the fliC genes gave mutant Bdellovibrio that still made flagella, and which were motile and predatory. Inactivation of the sixth fliC gene abolished normal flagellar synthesis and motility, but a disordered flagellar sheath was still seen. We find that this non-motile mutant was still able to predate when directly applied to lawns of YFP-labelled prey bacteria, showing that flagellar motility is not essential for prey entry but important for efficient encounters with prey in liquid environments.
Project description:The bacterial flagellum is a supramolecular motility machine consisting of the basal body as a rotary motor, the hook as a universal joint, and the filament as a helical propeller. Intact structures of the bacterial flagella have been observed for different bacterial species by electron cryotomography and subtomogram averaging. The core structures of the basal body consisting of the C ring, the MS ring, the rod and the protein export apparatus, and their organization are well conserved, but novel and divergent structures have also been visualized to surround the conserved structure of the basal body. This suggests that the flagellar motors have adapted to function in various environments where bacteria live and survive. In this review, we will summarize our current findings on the divergent structures of the bacterial flagellar motor.