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Sci Rep. 2018 Aug 6;8(1):11754. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-30293-0.

A coevolution-guided model for the rotor of the bacterial flagellar motor.

Author information

1
Laboratory of Cell Biology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD, 20892, USA. khan@mbc-als.org.
2
Molecular Biology Consortium, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA, 94720, USA. khan@mbc-als.org.
3
Laboratory of Cell Biology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD, 20892, USA.
4
Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, 66506, USA.

Abstract

The Salmonella typhimurium trans-membrane FliF MS ring templates assembly of the rotary bacterial flagellar motor, which also contains a cytoplasmic C-ring. A full-frame fusion of FliF with the rotor protein FliG assembles rings in non-motile expression hosts. 3D electron microscopy reconstructions of these FliFFliG rings show three high electron-density sub-volumes. 3D-classification revealed heterogeneity of the assigned cytoplasmic volume consistent with FliG lability. We used residue coevolution to construct homodimer building blocks for ring assembly, with X-ray crystal structures from other species and injectisome analogs. The coevolution signal validates folds and, importantly, indicates strong homodimer contacts for three ring building motifs (RBMs), initially identified in injectisome structures. It also indicates that the cofolded domains of the FliG N-terminal domain (FliG_N) with embedded α-helical FliF carboxy-terminal tail homo-oligomerize. The FliG middle and C-terminal domains (FliG_MC) have a weak signal for homo-dimerization but have coevolved to conserve their stacking contact. The homodimers and their ring models fit well into the 3D reconstruction. We hypothesize that a stable FliF periplasmic hub provides a platform for FliG ring self-assembly, but the FliG_MC ring has only limited stability without the C-ring. We also present a mechanical model for torque transmission in the FliFFliG ring.

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