It is unknown how the archaellum—the rotary propeller used by Archaea for motility—works. To further understand the molecular mechanism by which the hexameric ATPase motor protein FlaI drives rotation of the membrane-embedded archaellar motor, we determined motor torque by imposition of various loads on Halobacterium salinarum archaella. Markers of different sizes were attached to single archaella, and their trajectories were quantified using three-dimensional tracking and high-speed recording. We show that rotation slows as the viscous drag of markers increases, but torque remains constant at 160 pN·nm independent of rotation speed. Notably, the estimated work done in a single rotation is twice the expected energy that would come from hydrolysis of six ATP molecules in the hexamer, indicating that more ATP molecules are required for one rotation of archaellum. To reconcile the apparent contradiction, we suggest a new and general model for the mechanism of ATP-driven rotary motors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Medicine (miscellaneous)