Sensing structural intermediates in bacterial flagellar assembly by export of a negative regulator

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Science  19 Nov 1993:
Vol. 262, Issue 5137, pp. 1277-1280
DOI: 10.1126/science.8235660


The ability of a regulatory protein to sense the integrity of the bacterial flagellar structure was investigated. In response to a defective hook-basal body complex, the anti-sigma 28 FlgM protein inhibits flagellin transcription. In cells with a functional hook-basal body complex, the flagellin genes are transcribed normally and the FlgM protein is expelled into the growth medium. In strains with a defective hook-basal body structure, FlgM is absent from the media. The presence of flagellin protein in the media is substantially reduced in strains carrying a FlgM-LacZ protein fusion, suggesting that the fusion is blocking the flagellar export apparatus. These results suggest that the FlgM protein assesses the integrity of the flagellar hook-basal body complex by itself being a substrate for export by the flagellar-specific export apparatus.

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