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Mol Microbiol. 2000 Sep;37(5):1220-31.

Completion of the hook-basal body complex of the Salmonella typhimurium flagellum is coupled to FlgM secretion and fliC transcription.

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1
Department of Microbiology, Box 357242, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.

Abstract

The flhDC operon of Salmonella typhimurium is the master control operon required for the expression of the entire flagellar regulon. The flagellar master operon was placed under the tetracycline-inducible promoter PtetA using the T-POP transposon. Cells containing this construct are motile in the presence of tetracycline and non-motile without inducer present. No flagella were visible under the electron microscope when cells were grown without inducer. The class 1, class 2 and class 3 promoters of the flagellar regulon are temporally regulated. After addition of tetracycline, the class 1 flhDC operon was transcribed immediately. Transcription of flgM (which is transcribed from both class 2 and class 3 promoters) began 15 min after induction. At 20 min after induction, the class 2 fliA promoter became active and intracellular FliA protein levels increased; at 30 min after induction, the class 3 fliC promoter was activated. Induction of fliC gene expression coincides with the appearance of FlgM anti-sigma factor in the growth medium. This also coincides with the completion of hook-basal body structures. Rolling cells first appeared 35 min after induction, and excess hook protein (FlgE) was also found in the growth medium at this time. At 45 min after induction, nascent flagellar filaments became visible in electron micrographs and over 40% of the cells exhibited some swimming behaviour. Multiple flagella assemble and grow on individual cells after induction of the master operon. These results confirm that the flagellar regulatory hierarchy of S. typhimurium is temporally regulated after induction. Both FlgM secretion and class 3 gene expression occur upon completion of the hook-basal body structure.

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