The Nature of the Flagellar Hook and the Likely Involvement of Surface Structures in the Formation of Bacterial Flagellum

  • H. Koffler
  • R. W. Smith
  • J. R. Mitchen
  • E. McGroarty


The bacterial flagellum is differentiated into three morphologically distinct regions: an extracellular spiral microtubular filament, which constitutes over 90 per cent of the organelle, a hook, and a basal region that appears to be closely associated with the cytoplasmic membrane and the cell wall. If bacteria have any “sensory” receptors at all, it would be functionally plausible if such devices were located within or near surface structures. Probably this is true also for the machinery necessary to accomplish the transformation of chemical to kinetic energy and to coordinate the motion of individual flagella. Apparently the integrity of the cell surface is required for motility, since protoplasts of bacteria retain their original number of flagella, but are no longer motile (Weibull, 1953). More recently there have been indications that the prior formation of an intact cell wall is necessary for the synthesis of flagellin (Vaituzis and Doetsch, 1965) and that inhibitors capable of preventing the incorporation of diaminopimelic acid into the wall of Bacillus cereus also prevent the formation of flagella (Mendel et al., 1965). Since a relationship between the membrane-wall complex and the bacterial flagellum is implicated, it is regrettable that the nature of the basal structures and the flagellar hook, the components of the flagellum nearest to the surface structures, is only little understood.


Temperature Shift Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Potassium Cyanide Diaminopimelic Acid Bacterial Flagellum 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Company Ltd. 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Koffler
    • 1
  • R. W. Smith
    • 1
  • J. R. Mitchen
    • 1
  • E. McGroarty
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesPurdue UniversityLafayetteUSA

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