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J Bacteriol. 2001 Mar;183(5):1680-7.

The hook gene (flgE) is expressed from the flgBCDEF operon in Rhodobacter sphaeroides: study of an flgE mutant.

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Departamento de Genética Molecular, Instituto de Fisiología Celular, UNAM, 04510 México D.F., México.


In this work we identified the flgE gene encoding the flagellar hook protein from Rhodobacter sphaeroides. Our results show that this gene is part of a flagellar cluster that includes the genes flgB, flgC, flgD, flgE, and flgF. Two different types of mutants in the flgE gene were isolated, and both showed a Fla(-) phenotype, indicating the functionality of this sequence. Complementation studies of these mutant strains suggest that flgE is included in a single transcriptional unit that starts in flgB and ends in flgF. In agreement with this possibility, a specific transcript of approximately 3.5 kb was identified by Northern blot. This mRNA is large enough to represent the complete flgBCDEF operon. FlgE showed a relatively high proline content; in particular, a region of 12 amino acids near the N terminus, in which four prolines were identified. Cells expressing a mutant FlgE protein lacking this region showed abnormal swimming behavior, and their hooks were curved. These results suggest that this region is involved in the characteristic quaternary structure of the hook of R. sphaeroides and also imply that a straight hook, or perhaps the rigidity associated with this feature, is important for an efficient swimming behavior in this bacterium.

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