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J Mol Biol. 1984 Jul 15;176(4):459-75.

Morphology, function and isolation of halobacterial flagella.


Halobacterium halobium has right-handed helical flagella. During the logarithmic phase of growth, cells are predominantly monopolar, whereas in the stationary phase they are mostly bipolarly flagellated. The flagellar bundle consists of several filaments. Halobacteria swim forward by clockwise and backwards by counterclockwise rotation of their flagella. The flagellar bundle does not fly apart when the sense of rotation changes. In addition to the flagella attached to the cells, large amounts of loose flagella, which aggregate into thick super-flagella, can be observed at all phases of growth. During stationary phase, the production of these super-flagella, which are generally 10 to 20 times longer than the cell body, is significantly higher. Dissociation and association by high temperature and differential centrifugation allow the isolation of pure flagella. Three different protein bands, of 23,500, 26,500 and 31,500 apparent molecular weights, are seen on sodium dodecyl sulphate/polyacrylamide gels. Antibodies against halobacterial flagella were produced in chicken; these antibodies interact with the flagella even in 4 M-NaCl. Rotation of tethered cells demonstrates that Halobacteria move due to the rotation of the flagella.

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