The bacterial flagellum is a filamentous organelle extending from the cell surface. The axial structure of the flagellum consists of the rod, hook, junction, filament, and cap. The axial structure is formed by axial component proteins exported via a specific protein export apparatus in a well-regulated manner. Although previous studies have revealed the outline of the flagellar construction process, the mechanism of axial structure formation, including axial protein export, is still obscure due to difficulties in direct observation of protein export and assembly in vivo. We recently developed an in vitro flagellar protein transport assay system using inverted membrane vesicles (IMVs) and succeeded in reproducing the early stage of flagellar assembly. However, the late stage of the flagellar formation process remained to be examined in the IMVs. In this study, we showed that the filament-type proteins are transported into the IMVs to produce the filament on the hook inside the IMVs. Furthermore, we provide direct evidence that coordinated flagellar protein export and assembly can occur at the post-translational level. These results indicate that the ordered construction of the entire flagellar structure can be regulated by only the interactions between the protein export apparatus, the export substrate proteins, and their cognate chaperones.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited