The flagellar basal body is a rotary motor that spans the cytoplasmic and outer membranes. The rod is a drive shaft that transmits torque generated by the motor through the hook to the filament that propels the bacterial cell. The assembly and structure of the rod are poorly understood. In a first attempt to characterize this structure in the alphaproteobacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides, we overexpressed and purified FliE and the four related rod proteins (FlgB, FlgC, FlgF, and FlgG), and we analyzed their ability to form homo-oligomers. We found that highly purified preparations of these proteins formed high-molecular-mass oligomers that tended to dissociate in the presence of NaCl. As predicted by in silico modeling, the four rod proteins share architectural features. Using affinity blotting, we detected the heteromeric interactions between these proteins. In addition, we observed that deletion of the N- and C-terminal regions of FlgF and FlgG severely affected heteromeric but not homomeric interactions. On the basis of our findings, we propose a model of rod assembly in this bacterium.
Última actualización: 05/05/2021