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J Mol Biol. 2005 Sep 23;352(3):510-6.

Flagellar filaments of the deep-sea bacteria Idiomarina loihiensis belong to a family different from those of Salmonella typhimurium.

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Soft Nano-Machine Project, JST, 3-10-23 Kagamiyama, Higashi-Hiroshima 739-0046, Japan.


The helical filaments of the bacterial flagella so far studied seem to be universal in the bacterial kingdom. Despite the variation in flagellin molecular masses, which range from 24 kDa to 62 kDa in different species, there are only two forms: either the so-called Normal (left-handed) or the Curly (right-handed). The Normal and Curly helical forms are asymmetric; the two characteristic helical parameters, which are the pitch and diameter, of Normal filaments are twice those of Curly filaments. Both the universality of these two helical forms and their asymmetry are biological puzzles. We found that the marine bacteria Idiomarina loihiensis have flagella with left-handed Curly-like filaments. Analysis of the polymorphic forms under different pH conditions showed that the Curly-like filaments are actually Normal filaments having a smaller pitch and diameter than those of Salmonella typhimurium. A minor modification of Calladine's model for a filament lattice can explain the variant helical forms. Pseudomonas aeruginosa filaments also belong to the family of I.loihiensis filaments. Thus, there are at least two families of flagella filaments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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