Restoration of flagellar clockwise rotation in bacterial envelopes by insertion of the chemotaxis protein CheY

S. Ravid, P. Matsumura, M. Eisenbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


When cells of the bacterium Salmonella typhimurium are incubated with penicillin and lysed in a dilute buffer, flagellated cytoplasm-free envelopes are formed. When the envelopes are tethered to glass by their flagella and then energized, some of them spin. The direction of rotation of wild-type envelopes is exclusively counterclockwise (CCW). We perturbed this system by including in the lysis medium (and hence in the envelopes) the chemotaxis protein CheY. As a result, some of the envelopes rotated exclusively clockwise (CW). The fraction of envelopes that did so increased with the concentration of CheY; at a concentration of 48 μM (pH 8), all functional envelopes spun CW. The fraction also increased with the pH of the lysis medium in the range 6.6-8.4. The results were the same in the presence of absence of intracellular Ca2+. Reconstituted envelopes failed to respond to chemotactic stimuli. None of them changed the direction of their rotation. However, when the intracellular pH was lowered to 6.6 or below, envelopes that spun CW stopped rotating, while envelopes that spun CCW continued to rotate. This pnenomenon was reversible. We conclude that CheY per se, without any additional free cytoplasmic mediators, interacts with a switch at the base of the flagellum to cause CW rotation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)7157-7161
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes


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