Sodium-dependent dynamic assembly of membrane complexes in sodium-driven flagellar motors

Mol Microbiol. 2009 Feb;71(4):825-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2008.06569.x. Epub 2008 Dec 18.


The bacterial flagellar motor is driven by the electrochemical potential of specific ions, H(+) or Na(+). The motor consists of a rotor and stator, and their interaction generates rotation. The stator, which is composed of PomA and PomB in the Na(+) motor of Vibrio alginolyticus, is thought to be a torque generator converting the energy of ion flux into mechanical power. We found that specific mutations in PomB, including D24N, F33C and S248F, which caused motility defects, affected the assembly of stator complexes into the polar flagellar motor using green fluorescent protein-fused stator proteins. D24 of PomB is the predicted Na(+)-binding site. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the coupling ion, Na(+), is required for stator assembly and that phenamil (an inhibitor of the Na(+)-driven motor) inhibited the assembly. Carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone, which is a proton ionophore that collapses the sodium motive force in this organism at neutral pH, also inhibited the assembly. Thus we conclude that the process of Na(+) influx through the channel, including Na(+) binding, is essential for the assembly of the stator complex to the flagellar motor as well as for torque generation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Binding Sites
  • Flagella / genetics
  • Flagella / metabolism*
  • Hydrazones / pharmacology
  • Molecular Motor Proteins / genetics
  • Molecular Motor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Sodium / metabolism*
  • Sodium Channels / genetics
  • Sodium Channels / metabolism*
  • Torque
  • Vibrio alginolyticus / genetics
  • Vibrio alginolyticus / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Hydrazones
  • Molecular Motor Proteins
  • PomB protein, Vibrio
  • Sodium Channels
  • carbonyl 3-chlorophenylhydrazone
  • Sodium