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Science. 2003 Dec 5;302(5651):1757-60.

The needle length of bacterial injectisomes is determined by a molecular ruler.

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  • 1Biozentrum, Universit├Ąt Basel, 4056 Basel, Switzerland.


Size determination represents a fundamental requirement for multicomponent biological structures. Some pathogenic bacteria possess a weapon derived from the flagellum. Like the flagellum, this type-III secretion apparatus, called the injectisome, has a transmembrane basal body, but the external component is a needle-like structure instead of a hook and a filament. Here, we provide evidence that the length of this needle is determined by the size of a protein, YscP, acting as a molecular ruler.

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