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J Bacteriol. 1994 Apr;176(8):2272-81.

FlgD is a scaffolding protein needed for flagellar hook assembly in Salmonella typhimurium.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8114.


FlgD is known to be absolutely required for hook assembly, yet it has not been detected in the mature flagellum. We have overproduced and purified FlgD and raised an antibody against it. By using this antibody, we have detected FlgD in substantial amounts in isolated basal bodies from flgA, flgE, flgH, flgI, flgK, and fliK mutants, in much smaller amounts in those from the wild type and flgL, fliA, fliC, fliD, and fliE mutants, and not at all in those from flgB, flgD, flgG, and flgJ mutants. In terms of the morphological assembly pathway, these results indicate that FlgD is first added to the structure when the rod is completed and is discarded when the hook, having reached its mature length, has the first of the hook-filament junction proteins, FlgK, added to its tip. Immunoelectron microscopy established that FlgD initially is located at the distal end of the rod and eventually is located at the distal end of the hook. Thus, it appears to act as a hook-capping protein to enable assembly of hook protein subunits, much as another flagellar protein, FliD, does for the flagellin subunits of the filament. However, whereas FliD is associated with the filament tip indefinitely, FlgD is only transiently associated with the hook tip; i.e., it acts as a scaffolding protein. When FlgD was added to the culture medium of a flgD mutant, cells gained motility; thus, although the hook cap is normally added endogenously, it can be added exogenously. When culture media were analyzed for the presence of hook protein, it was found only with the flgD mutant and, in smaller amounts, the fliK (polyhook) mutant. Thus, although FlgD is needed for assembly of hook protein, it is not needed for its export.

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