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Gonzalez-Pedrajo, B; Fraser, GM; Tame, JRH; Macnab, RM (2003)


J BACTERIOL 185(18):5546-5554
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FliJ, a 17-kDa protein, is a soluble component of the Salmonella type III flagellar protein export system that has antiaggregation properties and several other characteristics that suggest it may have a chaperone-like function. We have now examined this protein in detail. Ten-amino-acid scanning deletions covering the entire 147-amino-acid sequence were tested for complementation of a fliJ null strain; only the first and last deletions complemented. A few of the deletions, especially towards the C terminus, exerted a dominant negative effect on wild-type cells, indicating that they were actively interfering with function. Two truncated versions of Flij, representing its N- and C-terminal halves, failed to complement and were not dominant. We tested for Flij self-association by several techniques. Size-exclusion chromatography (Superdex 200) indicated an apparent molecular mass of around 50 kDa, which could reflect either multimerization or an elongated shape or both. Multiangle light scattering gave a peak value of 20 kDa, close to the molecular mass of the monomer. Analytical ultracentrifugation gave evidence for weak self-association as a trimer or tetramer. It was known from previous studies that Flij interacts with the N-terminal region of FliH, a negative regulator of the ATPase FliI. Using both truncation and deletion versions of Flij, we now show that it is its C-terminal region that is responsible for this interaction. We also show that FliJ interacts with the soluble cytoplasmic domain of the largest membrane component of the export apparatus, FlhA; although small deletions in FliJ did not interfere with the association, both truncated versions failed to associate, indicating that a substantial amount of the central region of the Flij sequence participates in the association. We present a model summarizing these multiple interactions.