Interactions of the chemotaxis signal protein CheY with bacterial flagellar motors visualized by evanescent wave microscopy. Academic Article uri icon


  • The chemotaxis signal protein CheY of enteric bacteria shuttles between transmembrane methyl-accepting chemotaxis protein (MCP) receptor complexes and flagellar basal bodies [1]. The basal body C-rings, composed of the FliM, FliG and FliN proteins, form the rotor of the flagellar motor [2]. Phosphorylated CheY binds to isolated FliM [3] and may also interact with FliG [4], but its binding to basal bodies has not been measured. Using the chemorepellent acetate to phosphorylate and acetylate CheY [5], we have measured the covalent-modification-dependent binding of a green fluorescent protein-CheY fusion (GFP-CheY) to motor assemblies in bacteria lacking MCP complexes by evanescent wave microscopy [6]. At acetate concentrations that cause solely clockwise rotation, GFP-CheY molecules bound to native basal bodies or to overproduced rotor complexes with a stoichiometry comparable to the number of C-ring subunits. GFP-CheY did not bind to rotors lacking FIiM/FliN, showing that these subunits are essential for the association. This assay provides a new means of monitoring protein-protein interactions in signal transduction pathways in living cells.

publication date

  • July 27, 2000