Conserved machinery of the bacterial flagellar motor. Academic Article uri icon


  • Novel periplasmic and cytoplasmic structural modules of the bases of bacterial flagella have been observed in situ and isolated using new biochemical protocols. Flagellar rotation may depend upon interactions of these modules with the intramembrane particle rings, a ubiquitous feature of flagellar bases necessary for torque generation. The outer membrane-associated basal disk of the Wolinella succinogenes polar flagellum has architecture well suited for interaction with the ring particles. However, antibody against the main W. succinogenes basal disk protein did not cross-react with flagella-enriched fractions from Salmonella typhimurium and Bacillus firmus; nor have such structures been observed in these species thus far. Antibodies against two S. typhimurium proteins, FliG and FliM, known to be involved in motor function and part of the cytoplasmic module in this species cross-reacted with flagella-enriched fractions from both W. succinogenes and B. firmus. In addition, flagellar cytoplasmic structure could be isolated from B. firmus. The basal disk may anchor the flagellar motor to the cell wall in some polar bacteria, but this does not seem to be a unique strategy. In contrast, the data indicate that the cytoplasmic module is conserved.

publication date

  • April 1995