Editors' ChoiceBiochemistry

Little Change, Large Consequence

Science Signaling  22 Apr 2008:
Vol. 1, Issue 16, pp. ec141
DOI: 10.1126/stke.116ec141

Occasionally, small changes in sequence change the overall architecture of large protein assemblies. One system for understanding protein assembly is the bacterial flagellar filament, the prototype of which comes from Salmonella and contains 11 protofilaments. Galkin et al. now show that the homologous flagellar filament of Campylobacter contains only 7 protofilaments. The difference may be related to sequence divergence in a region of flagellin that in Salmonella is involved in coiled-coil formation and is recognized by the vertebrate Toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5). Campylobacter is not recognized by TLR5, and its evasion may have driven the change in quaternary structure.

V. E. Galkin, X. Yu, J. Bielnicki, J. Heuser, C. P. Ewing, P. Guerry, E. H. Egelman, Divergence of quaternary structures among bacterial flagellar filaments. Science 320, 382-385 (2008). [Abstract] [Full Text]

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