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J Mol Biol. 2012 Mar 2;416(4):558-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2011.12.065. Epub 2012 Jan 5.

Complex spatial organization and flagellin composition of flagellar propeller from marine magnetotactic ovoid strain MO-1.

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State Key Laboratories for Agrobiotechnology and College of Biological Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China.


Marine magnetotactic ovoid bacterium MO-1 is capable of swimming along the geomagnetic field lines by means of its two sheathed flagellar bundles at a speed up to 300 μm/s. In this study, by using electron microscopy, we showed that, in each bundle, six individual flagella were organized in hexagon with a seventh in the middle. We identified 12 flagellin paralogs and 2 putative flagellins in the genome of MO-1. Among them, 13 were tandemly located on an ~ 17-kb segment while the 14th was on a separated locus. Using reverse transcription PCR and quantitative PCR, we found that all the 14 flagellin or putative flagellin genes were transcribed and that 2 of them were more abundantly expressed than others. A nLC (nanoliquid chromatography)-ESI (electrospray ionization)-MS/MS (mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry) mass spectrometry analysis identified all the 12 flagellin proteins in three glycosylated polypeptide bands resolved by one-dimensional denaturing polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and 10 of them in 21 spots obtained by means of two-dimensional electrophoresis of flagellar extracts. Most spots contained more than one flagellin, and eight of the ten identified flagellins existed in multiple isoforms. Taken together, these results show unprecedented complexity in the spatial organization and flagellin composition of the flagellar propeller. Such architecture is observed only for ovoid-coccoid, bilophotrichously flagellated magnetotactic bacteria living in marine sediments, suggesting a species and environmental specificity.

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