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Interactions between chemotaxis genes and flagellar genes in Escherichia coli.

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  • Research Article


Escherichia coli mutants defective in cheY and cheZ function are motile but generally nonchemotactic; cheY mutants have an extreme counterclockwise bias in flagellar rotation, whereas cheZ mutants have a clockwise rotational bias. Chemotactic pseudorevertants of cheY and cheZ mutants were isolated on semisolid agar and examined for second-site suppressors in other chemotaxis-related loci. Approximately 15% of the cheZ revertants and over 95% of the cheY revertants contained compensatory mutations in the flaA or flaB locus. When transferred to an otherwise wild-type background, most of these suppressor mutations resulted in a generally nonchemotactic phenotype: suppressors of cheY caused a clockwise rotational bias; suppressors of cheZ produced a counterclockwise rotational bias. Chemotactic double mutants containing a che and a fla mutation invariably exhibited flagellar rotation patterns in between the opposing extremes characteristic of the component mutations. This additive effect on flagellar rotation resulted in essentially wild-type swimming behavior and is probably the major basis of suppressor action. However, suppression effects were also allele specific, suggesting that the cheY and cheZ gene products interact directly with the flaA and flaB products. These interactions may be instrumental in establishing the unstimulated swimming pattern of E. coli.

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