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J Mol Biol. 1991 Jun 5;219(3):471-80.

Amino acids responsible for flagellar shape are distributed in terminal regions of flagellin.

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ERATO, Research Development Corporation of Japan, Ibaraki.


The shape of the flagellar filaments of the bacterium Salmonella typhimurium under ordinary conditions is a left-handed helix. In addition to the normal wild-type filament, non-helical (i.e. straight), right-handed helical (early), or circular (semi-coiled and coiled) filaments and filament with small amplitude (fl-type) have been found in mutants or in filaments reconstituted in vitro. We analysed wild-type flagellin and flagellins from 17 flagellar-shape mutants (6 with straight filaments, 6 with curly filaments, 4 with coiled filaments and 1 with fl-type filament) by amino acid sequencing to identify the mutational sites. All mutant flagellins except that of the fl-type filament had single mutations; the fl-type flagellin had two mutations in the molecule. The sites of these mutations were localized in alpha-helical segments of the terminal regions of flagellin. A possible mechanism of the polymorphism of the flagellar filament is discussed.

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