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Biophys J. Jul 1999; 77(1): 597–603.
PMCID: PMC1300356

Temperature dependence of switching of the bacterial flagellar motor by the protein CheY(13DK106YW).


The behavior of the bacterium Escherichia coli is controlled by switching of the flagellar rotary motor between the two rotational states, clockwise (CW) and counterclockwise (CCW). The molecular mechanism for switching remains unknown, but binding of the response regulator CheY-P to the motor component FliM enhances CW rotation. This effect is mimicked by the unphosphorylated double mutant CheY13DK106YW (CheY**). To learn more about switching, we measured the fraction of time that a motor spends in the CW state (the CW bias) at different concentrations of CheY** and at different temperatures. From the CW bias, we computed the standard free energy change of switching. In the absence of CheY, this free energy change is a linear function of temperature (. Biophys. J. 71:2227-2233). In the presence of CheY**, it is nonlinear. However, the data can be fit by models in which binding of each molecule of CheY** shifts the difference in free energy between CW and CCW states by a fixed amount. The shift increases linearly from approximately 0.3kT per molecule at 5 degrees C to approximately 0.9kT at 25 degrees C, where k is Boltzmann's constant and T is 289 Kelvin (= 16 degrees C). The entropy and enthalpy contributions to this shift are about -0. 031kT/ degrees C and 0.10kT, respectively.

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Selected References

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