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J Bacteriol. Jun 1995; 177(12): 3496–3503.
PMCID: PMC177054

Regulated underexpression and overexpression of the FliN protein of Escherichia coli and evidence for an interaction between FliN and FliM in the flagellar motor.

Abstract

The FliN protein of Escherichia coli is essential for the assembly and function of flagella. Here, we report the effects of regulated underexpression and overexpression of FliN in a fliN null strain. Cells that lack the FliN protein do not make flagella. When FliN is underexpressed, cells produce relatively few flagella and those made are defective, rotating at subnormal, rapidly varying speeds. These results are similar to what was seen previously when the flagellar protein FliM was underexpressed and unlike what was seen when the motility proteins MotA and MotB were underexpressed. Overexpression of FliN impairs motility and flagellation, as has been reported previously for FliM, but when FliN and FliM are co-overexpressed, motility is much less impaired. This and additional evidence presented indicate that FliM and FliN are associated in the flagellar motor, in a structure distinct from the MotA/MotB torque generators. A recent study showed that FliN might be involved in the export of flagellar components during assembly (A. P. Vogler, M. Homma, V. M. Irikura, and R. M. Macnab, J. Bacteriol. 173:3564-3572, 1991). We show here that approximately 50 amino acid residues from the amino terminus of FliN are dispensable for function and that the remaining, essential part of FliN has sequence similarity to a part of Spa33, a protein that functions in transmembrane export in Shigella flexneri. Thus, FliN might function primarily in flagellar export, rather than in torque generation, as has sometimes been supposed.

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Selected References

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