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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Torque generation in the flagellar motor of Escherichia coli: evidence of a direct role for FliG but not for FliM or FliN.

Among the many proteins needed for assembly and function of bacterial flagella, FliG, FliM, and FliN have attracted special attention because mutant phenotypes suggest that they are needed not only for flagellar assembly but also for torque generation and for controlling the direction of motor rotation. A role for these proteins in torque generation is suggested by the existence of mutations in each of them that produce the Mot- (or paralyzed) phenotype, in which flagella are assembled and appear normal but do not rotate. The presumption is that Mot- defects cause paralysis by specifically disrupting functions essential for torque generation, while preserving the features of a protein needed for flagellar assembly. Here, we present evidence that the reported mot mutations in fliM and fliN do not disrupt torque-generating functions specifically but, instead, affect the incorporation of proteins into the flagellum. The fliM and fliN mutants are immotile at normal expression levels but become motile when the mutant proteins and/or other, evidently interacting flagellar proteins are overexpressed. In contrast, many of the reported fliG mot mutations abolish motility at all expression levels, while permitting flagellar assembly, and thus appear to disrupt torque generation specifically. These mutations are clustered in a segment of about 100 residues at the carboxyl terminus of FliG. A slightly larger carboxyl-terminal segment of 126 residues accumulates in the cells when expressed alone and thus probably constitutes a stable, independently folded domain. We suggest that the carboxyl-terminal domain of FliG functions specifically in torque generation, forming the rotor portion of the site of energy transduction in the flagellar motor.[1]


  1. Torque generation in the flagellar motor of Escherichia coli: evidence of a direct role for FliG but not for FliM or FliN. Lloyd, S.A., Tang, H., Wang, X., Billings, S., Blair, D.F. J. Bacteriol. (1996) [Pubmed]
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