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J Mol Biol. 1994 Apr 29;238(2):173-86.

A mutant hook-associated protein (HAP3) facilitates torsionally induced transformations of the flagellar filament of Escherichia coli.

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Department of Cellular and Developmental Biology, Harvard University Cambridge, MA 02138-2020.


Two mutants with defects in hook-associated protein 3 (HAP3) were isolated that exhibit impaired swimming only when they interact with a solid surface or a semisolid matrix. Motility and chemotaxis were normal in liquid media, even in media containing viscous agents, but cells failed to swarm in 0.28% agar. Mutants appeared to carry a full complement of flagella of normal configuration and length. However, filaments rotating counterclockwise close to a glass surface transformed from normal to straight, while filaments rotating clockwise transformed from curly to straight. Both transformations propagated from base to tip, as expected if torsionally induced. The mutations mapped to the middle of flgL, to structural gene for HAP3, and sequence analysis revealed the same coding change in both mutants: a substitution of cysteine for arginine 168. Our results show that the ability of a filament composed of normal flagellin subunits to resist mechanical stress depends on the structure of the protein (HAP3) to which it is attached at its base. The N-terminal sequence of HAP3 was found to be similar to the N-terminal sequence of flagellin, and the possibility that it provides a nucleation site for the C-terminal region of flagellin is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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