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J Mol Biol. 1992 Jan 5;223(1):171-84.

Substructure of the flagellar basal body of Salmonella typhimurium.

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Structural Biology Laboratory Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02254.


The Salmonella typhimurium basal body, a part of the flagellar rotary motor, consists of four rings (denoted M, S, P and L) and a coaxial rod. Using low-dose electron microscopy and image averaging methods on negatively stained and frozen-hydrated preparations, we examined whole basal body complexes and subcomplexes obtained by dissociation in acid. Dissociation occurs in steps, allowing us to obtain images of substructures lacking the M ring, lacking the M and S rings, and lacking the M and S rings and the proximal portion of the rod. We obtained images of the L and P ring subcomplex. The existence of a subcomplex missing only the M ring suggests either that the S and M rings derive from two different proteins, or that the M ring is a labile domain of a single protein, which makes up both rings. At the 25 to 30 A resolution of our averaged images, the L, P and S rings appear cylindrically symmetric. Images of the M ring show variability that may be due to differences in angular orientation of the grid, but equally could be due to structural variations. Three-dimensional reconstructions of these structures from the averaged images reveal the internal structure and spatial organization of these components.

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