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Trends Microbiol. 2014 Oct;22(10):566-72. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2014.05.009. Epub 2014 Jun 24.

Building a flagellum outside the bacterial cell.

Author information

1
University of Cambridge, Department of Pathology, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 1QP, UK.
2
University of Cambridge, Department of Pathology, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 1QP, UK. Electronic address: gmf25@cam.ac.uk.

Abstract

Flagella, the helical propellers that extend from the bacterial surface, are a paradigm for how complex molecular machines can be built outside the living cell. Their assembly requires ordered export of thousands of structural subunits across the cell membrane and this is achieved by a type III export machinery located at the flagellum base, after which subunits transit through a narrow channel at the core of the flagellum to reach the assembly site at the tip of the nascent structure, up to 20μm from the cell surface. Here we review recent findings that provide new insights into flagellar export and assembly, and a new and unanticipated mechanism for constant rate flagellum growth.

KEYWORDS:

bacterial flagellum; cell motility; chain mechanism; protein export; rotary nanomotor; type III secretion system

PMID:
24973293
PMCID:
PMC4183434
DOI:
10.1016/j.tim.2014.05.009
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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