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J Mol Biol. 1984 Mar 15;173(4):463-76.

Polymorphic transition of the flagellar polyhook from Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium.


Bacterial flagellar polyhook fibers were reversibly transformed into a set of helical forms depending on pH, ionic strength and temperature. Electron microscopy with formalin fixation and freeze-drying was useful for observing three-dimensional shapes of various polyhook helices and determining their helical handedness. A Cartesian plot of curvature against twist for these polyhook helices gave a sinusoidal curve as in the case of the polymorphic forms of flagellar filament. In the study on the polymorphism of flagellar filaments. Calladine (1976, 1978) and Kamiya et al. (1979) pointed out that such a relation in the polymorphic forms could be derived from the assumption that the subunits on the near-longitudinal (11-start) helical lines should work as elastic fibers (protofilaments) having two distinct states of conformation. In contrast, the observed twist for the polyhook helices is too large to be explained by the same assumption. Instead, we must assume that subunits on the strongly twisted, 16-start helical line should work as the co-operative protofilament.

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