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J Mol Biol. 1989 Sep 5;209(1):127-33.

Terminal regions of flagellin are disordered in solution.

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ERATO, Molecular Dynamic Assembly Project, Tsukuba, Japan.


Limited proteolysis of flagellin from Salmonella typhimurium SJW1103 by subtilisin, trypsin and thermolysin results in homologous degradation patterns. The terminal regions of flagellin are very sensitive to proteolysis. These parts are degraded into small oligopeptides at the very early stage of a mild digestion that yields a relatively stable fragment with a molecular weight of 40,000. Further proteolytic degradation results in a stable 27,000 Mr fragment. The 40,000 Mr tryptic fragment has been identified as residues 67 to 446 of the flagellin sequence, while the 27,000 Mr fragment involves the 179 to 418 segment. The NH2-terminal sequence positions for the corresponding fragments produced by subtilisin are 60 and 174 for the 40,000 Mr and 27,000 Mr fragments, respectively. The fragments lost their polymerizing ability. Structural properties of flagellin and its 40,000 Mr tryptic fragment were compared by circular dichroism spectroscopy and differential scanning calorimetry. Analysis of the calorimetric melting profiles suggests that terminal parts of flagellin have no significant internal stability and they are in extensive contact with water. However, these regions contain some secondary structure, probably alpha-helices, as revealed by comparison of the circular dichroic spectra in the far-ultraviolet region. Our results indicate that, although the terminal regions of flagellin may contain some alpha-helical secondary structure of marginal stability, they have no compact ordered tertiary structure in solution. On the contrary, the central region of the molecule involves at least two compact structural units.

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