An archaellum filament composed of two alternating subunits

Nat Commun. 2022 Feb 7;13(1):710. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-28337-1.


Archaea use a molecular machine, called the archaellum, to swim. The archaellum consists of an ATP-powered intracellular motor that drives the rotation of an extracellular filament composed of multiple copies of proteins named archaellins. In many species, several archaellin homologs are encoded in the same operon; however, previous structural studies indicated that archaellum filaments mainly consist of only one protein species. Here, we use electron cryo-microscopy to elucidate the structure of the archaellum from Methanocaldococcus villosus at 3.08 Å resolution. The filament is composed of two alternating archaellins, suggesting that the architecture and assembly of archaella is more complex than previously thought. Moreover, we identify structural elements that may contribute to the filament's flexibility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Archaeal Proteins / chemistry
  • Binding Sites
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy
  • Flagella / chemistry*
  • Flagella / physiology
  • Flagellin / chemistry
  • Glycosylation
  • Metals / chemistry
  • Methanocaldococcus / chemistry*
  • Methanocaldococcus / physiology
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Protein Subunits


  • Archaeal Proteins
  • Metals
  • Protein Subunits
  • Flagellin