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J Bacteriol. 1999 Sep;181(18):5808-13.

Effect of hook subunit concentration on assembly and control of length of the flagellar hook of Salmonella.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8114, USA.


The flagellar hook of Salmonella is a filamentous polymer made up of subunits of the protein FlgE. Hook assembly is terminated when the length reaches about 55 nm. After our recent study of the effect of cellular levels of the hook length control protein FliK, we have now analyzed the effect of cellular levels of FlgE itself. When FlgE was overproduced in a wild-type strain, a fliC (flagellin) mutant, or a fliD (hook-associated protein 2 [HAP2], filament capping protein) mutant, the hooks remained at the wild-type length. In a fliK (hook length control protein) mutant, which produces long hooks (polyhooks), the overproduction of FlgE resulted in extraordinarily long hooks (superpolyhooks). In a flgK (HAP1, first hook-filament junction protein) mutant or a flgL (HAP3, second hook-filament junction protein) mutant, the overproduction of FlgE also resulted in longer than normal hooks. Thus, at elevated hook protein levels not only FliK but also FlgK and FlgL are necessary for the proper termination of hook elongation. When FlgE was severely underproduced, basal bodies without hooks were often observed. However, those hooks that were seen were of wild-type length, demonstrating that FlgE underproduction decreases the probability of the initiation of hook assembly but not the extent of hook elongation.

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