In Escherichia coli, rotation of the flagellar motor has been shown to depend upon electrostatic interactions between charged residues of the stator protein MotA and the rotor protein FliG. These charged residues are conserved in the Na+-driven polar flagellum of Vibrio alginolyticus, but mutational studies in V. alginolyticus suggested that they are relatively unimportant for motor rotation. The electrostatic interactions detected in E. coli therefore might not be a general feature of flagellar motors, or, alternatively, the V. alginolyticus motor might rely on similar interactions but incorporate additional features that make it more robust against mutation. Here, we have carried out a comparative study of chimeric motors that were resident in E. coli but engineered to use V. alginolyticus stator components, rotor components, or both. Charged residues in the V. alginolyticus rotor and stator proteins were found to be essential for motor rotation when the proteins functioned in the setting of the E. coli motor. Patterns of synergism and suppression in rotor/stator double mutants indicate that the V. alginolyticus proteins interact in essentially the same way as their counterparts in E. coli. The robustness of the rotor-stator interface in V. alginolyticus is in part due to the presence of additional charged residues in PomA but appears mainly due to other factors, because an E. coli motor using both rotor and stator components from V. alginolyticus remained sensitive to mutation. Motor function in V. alginolyticus may be enhanced by the proteins MotX and MotY.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology