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J Bacteriol. 1997 Feb;179(4):1268-73.

Hook-length control of the export-switching machinery involves a double-locked gate in Salmonella typhimurium flagellar morphogenesis.

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Faculty of Applied Biological Science, Hiroshima University, Higashi-Hiroshima, Japan.


During flagellar morphogenesis in Salmonella typhimurium, the genes involved in filament assembly are expressed fully only after completion of hook-basal body assembly. This coupling of gene expression to morphogenesis is achieved by exporting the flagellum-specific anti-sigma factor, FlgM, out of the cell through the mature hook-basal body structure. Therefore, the flagellum-specific export apparatus must be able to sense the assembly state of the flagellar structure and to turn on FlgM export at a specific stage of hook assembly. It has been suggested that FlhB may act as the molecular switch which mediates this ordered export. Here, I report genetic evidence that in addition to FlhB, the product of a newly identified gene, rflH, is involved in the negative regulation of FlgM export. FlgM is released through the basal body structure lacking the hook and the filament only when the flhB and rflH genes are both defective. Therefore, the export gate for FlgM should be double locked by FlhB and RflH. The rflH gene is located at around 52 min, where no flagellum-related gene has been found. I propose a revised model of the export-switching machinery which consists of two systems, the hook-length signal transduction pathway and the double-locked gate for FlgM export.

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