The bacterial flagellar motor is driven by an ion flux through a channel called MotAB in Escherichia coli or Salmonella and PomAB in Vibrio alginolyticus. PomAB is composed of two transmembrane (TM) components, PomA and PomB, and converts a sodium ion flux to rotation of the flagellum. Its homolog, MotAB, utilizes protons instead of sodium ions. PomB/MotB has a peptidoglycan (PG)-binding motif in the periplasmic domain, allowing it to function as the stator by being anchored to the PG layer. To generate torque, PomAB/MotAB is thought to undergo a conformational change triggered by the ion flux and to interact directly with FliG, a component of the rotor. Here, we present the first three-dimensional structure of this torque-generating stator unit analyzed by electron microscopy. The structure of PomAB revealed two arm domains, which contain the PG-binding site, connected to a large base made of the TM and cytoplasmic domains. The arms lean downward to the membrane surface, likely representing a "plugged" conformation, which would prevent ions leaking through the channel. We propose a model for how PomAB units are placed around the flagellar basal body to function as torque generators.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology