Motility protein complexes in the bacterial flagellar motor

J Mol Biol. 1996 Aug 16;261(2):209-21. doi: 10.1006/jmbi.1996.0453.


Among the many proteins needed for the assembly and function of bacterial flagella, only five have been suggested to be involved in torque generation. These are MotA, MotB, FliG, FliM and FliN. In this study, we have probed binding interactions among these proteins, by using protein fusions to glutathione S-transferase or to oligo-histidine, in conjunction with co-isolation assays. The results show that FliG, FliM and FliN all bind to each other, and that each also self-associates. MotA and MotB also bind to each other, and MotA interacts, but only weakly, with FliG and FliM. Taken together with previous genetic, physiological and ultrastructural studies, these results provide strong support for the view that FliG, FliM and FliN function together in a complex on the rotor of the flagellar motor, whereas MotA and MotB form a distinct complex that functions as the stator. Torque generation in the flagellar motor is thus likely to involve interactions between these two protein complexes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Flagella / chemistry*
  • Glutathione Transferase / genetics
  • Histidine*
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Peptides / genetics
  • Protein Binding
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Peptides
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • polyhistidine
  • Histidine
  • Glutathione Transferase