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Biophys J. 2009 Apr 22;96(8):3154-67. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2009.01.023.

Model studies of the dynamics of bacterial flagellar motors.

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Clarendon Laboratory, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.


The bacterial flagellar motor is a rotary molecular machine that rotates the helical filaments that propel swimming bacteria. Extensive experimental and theoretical studies exist on the structure, assembly, energy input, power generation, and switching mechanism of the motor. In a previous article, we explained the general physics underneath the observed torque-speed curves with a simple two-state Fokker-Planck model. Here, we further analyze that model, showing that 1), the model predicts that the two components of the ion motive force can affect the motor dynamics differently, in agreement with latest experiments; 2), with explicit consideration of the stator spring, the model also explains the lack of dependence of the zero-load speed on stator number in the proton motor, as recently observed; and 3), the model reproduces the stepping behavior of the motor even with the existence of the stator springs and predicts the dwell-time distribution. The predicted stepping behavior of motors with two stators is discussed, and we suggest future experimental procedures for verification.

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