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Nat Commun. 2018 Dec 18;9(1):5369. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07802-w.

Spatial arrangement of several flagellins within bacterial flagella improves motility in different environments.

Author information

1
Institut für Mikrobiologie und Molekularbiologie, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, 35392, Gießen, Germany.
2
Fachbereich Physik und LOEWE Zentrum für Synthetische Mikrobiologie, Philipps-Universität Marburg, 35032, Marburg, Germany.
3
Department of Physics, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK.
4
Department of Mathematics, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK.
5
Department of Physics, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, UK. laurence.wilson@york.ac.uk.
6
Fachbereich Physik und LOEWE Zentrum für Synthetische Mikrobiologie, Philipps-Universität Marburg, 35032, Marburg, Germany. bruno.eckhardt@physik.uni-marburg.de.
7
Institut für Mikrobiologie und Molekularbiologie, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, 35392, Gießen, Germany. kai.thormann@mikro.bio.uni-giessen.de.

Abstract

Bacterial flagella are helical proteinaceous fibers, composed of the protein flagellin, that confer motility to many bacterial species. The genomes of about half of all flagellated species include more than one flagellin gene, for reasons mostly unknown. Here we show that two flagellins (FlaA and FlaB) are spatially arranged in the polar flagellum of Shewanella putrefaciens, with FlaA being more abundant close to the motor and FlaB in the remainder of the flagellar filament. Observations of swimming trajectories and numerical simulations demonstrate that this segmentation improves motility in a range of environmental conditions, compared to mutants with single-flagellin filaments. In particular, it facilitates screw-like motility, which enhances cellular spreading through obstructed environments. Similar mechanisms may apply to other bacterial species and may explain the maintenance of multiple flagellins to form the flagellar filament.

PMID:
30560868
PMCID:
PMC6299084
DOI:
10.1038/s41467-018-07802-w
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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