Tocheva Lab

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The bacterial flagellar motor is a complex macromolecular machine whose function and self-assembly present a fascinating puzzle for structural biologists. Here, we report that in diverse bacterial species, cell lysis leads to loss of the cytoplasmic switch complex and associated ATPase before other components of the motor. This loss may be prevented by the formation of a cytoplasmic vesicle around the complex. These observations suggest a relatively loose association of the switch complex with the rest of the flagellar machinery.

IMPORTANCE: We show in eight different bacterial species (belonging to different phyla) that the flagellar motor loses its cytoplasmic switch complex upon cell lysis, while the rest of the flagellum remains attached to the cell body. This suggests an evolutionary conserved weak interaction between the switch complex and the rest of the flagellum which is important to understand how the motor evolved. In addition, this information is crucial for mimicking such nanomachines in the laboratory.