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Biochemical and cytological analysis of the complex periplasmic flagella from Spirochaeta aurantia.

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  • Research Article
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


The periplasmic flagella of Spirochaeta aurantia were isolated and were found to be ultrastructurally and biochemically complex. Generally, flagellar filaments were 18 to 20 nm in diameter and appeared to consist of an 11 to 13-nm-wide inner region and an outer layer. The hook-basal body region consisted of two closely apposed disks connected to a hook by a rod. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of purified flagella together with a Western blot analysis of a motility mutant that produces hooks and basal bodies but not flagellar filaments revealed that the filaments were composed of three major polypeptides of 37,500, 34,000, and 31,500 apparent molecular weight (37.5K, 34K, and 31.5K polypeptides) and three minor polypeptides of 36,000, 33,000, and 32,000 apparent molecular weight (36K, 33K, and 32K polypeptides). Purified hook-basal body preparations were greatly enriched in three polypeptides in the range of 62,000 to 66,000 apparent molecular weight. Immunogold labeling experiments with a monoclonal antibody specific for the 37.5K flagellin and one that reacts with an epitope common to the 36K, 34K, 33K, 32K, and 31.5K flagellins revealed that the 37.5K major polypeptide was a component of the outer layer, whereas one or more of the other polypeptides constituted the core.

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