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J Struct Biol. 1998 Dec 15;124(2-3):104-14.

A structural feature in the central channel of the bacterial flagellar FliF ring complex is implicated in type III protein export.

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Protonic NanoMachine Project, International Institute for Advanced Research, ERATO, JST, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., 3-4 Hikaridai, Seika, 619-0237, Japan.


The FliF ring complex, which consists of the M-S ring and a proximal portion of the rod of the flagellar basal body, is the base structure for the bacterial flagellar assembly. The FliF ring is also thought to be part of the export apparatus for flagellar proteins from its amino acid sequence homology to proteins involved in type III protein export systems. We established a new purification procedure for the FliF ring particles and carried out electron microscopic image analyses in their two distinct forms: well-dispersed single particles in the presence of salt and ordered monolayer arrays of hexagonal packing formed in the absence of salt. In both cases, the axial projection maps showed a common feature, a pair of concentric rings: the inner ring corresponds to the proximal rod; the outer ring represents the thick, edge portion of the M-S ring. However, the central channel of the FliF ring, the putative pathway for the flagellar protein export, appeared to show distinct structural features in the two forms. This suggests that a domain of FliF partially occupies the central channel to be involved in the export and gate mechanism, and the domain changes its conformation depending on the ionic strength.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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