Chemotaxis, Bacterial: A Model for Sensory Receptor Systems

  • Gerald L. Hazelbauer
Part of the Readings from the Encyclopedia of Neuroscience book series (REN)


Like eukaryotic cells that respond to hormones, growth factors, or neurotransmitters, motile bacteria detect spécifie chemical compounds and respond appropriately. The response is an altered swimming pattern resulting in net progress toward a more favorable chemical environment. This behavior, called chemotaxis, has been studied extensively in the closely related enteric bacteria, Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium. Biochemical and genetic studies of those species have identified molecular components that mediate tactic behavior, including receptor proteins exposed on the cell surface, and delineated some of the mechanisms by which the components function. Studies of other bacterial species have revealed striking parallels with the tactic system of the enterics. It seems likely that Chemotaxis in all bacterial species is accomplished by analogous sensory response systems that link receptors to flagella. In fact, homology has been detected among analogous protein components of the sensory systems from widely different bacteria. The current understanding of the chemotactic system in E. coli is summarized in the following paragraphs.


Bacterial Chemotaxis Sensory Transduction Swimming Pattern Flagellar Motor Motile Bacterium 
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Further reading

  1. Hazelbauer GL, Harayama S (1983): Sensory transduction in bacterial Chemotaxis. Int Rev Cytol 81:33–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Koshland DE Jr (1981): Biochemistry of sensing and adaptation in a simple bacterial system. Ann Rev Biochem 50:765–782CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Macnab RM, Aizawa S-I (1984): Bacterial motility and the bacterial flagellar motor. Ann Rev Biophys Bioeng 13:51–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Parkinson JS, Hazelbauer GL (1983): Bacterial Chemotaxis: Molecular genetics of sensory transduction and chemotactic gene expression. In: Gene Function in Prokaryotes, Beckwith J, Davies J, Gallant JA, eds. Cold Spring Harbor LaboratoryGoogle Scholar
  5. Springer MS, Goy MF, Adler, J. (1979): Protein methylation in behavioral control mechanisms and in signal transduction. Nature 280:279–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Boston, Inc. 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerald L. Hazelbauer

There are no affiliations available

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