Nucleotide sequence and characterization of a Bacillus subtilis gene encoding a flagellar switch protein

A. R. Zuberi, D. S. Bischoff, G. W. Ordal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The nucleotide sequence of the Bacillus subtilis fliM gene has been determined. This gene encodes a 38-kDa protein that is homologous to the FliM flagellar switch proteins of Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium. Expression of this gene in Che+ cells of E. coli and B. subtilis interferes with normal chemotaxis. The nature of the chemotaxis defect is dependent upon the host used. In B. subtilis, overproduction of FliM generates mostly nonmotile cells. Those cells that are motile switch less frequently. Expression of B. subtilis FliM in E. coli also generates nonmotile cells. However, those cells that are motile have a tumble bias. The B. subtilis fliM gene cannot complement an E. coli fliM mutant. A frameshift mutation was constructed in the fliM gene, and the mutation was transferred onto the B. subtilis chromosome. The mutant has a Fla- phenotype. This phenotype is consistent with the hypothesis that the FliM protein encodes a component of the flagellar switch in B. subtilis. Additional characterization of the fliM mutant suggests that the hag and mot loci are not expressed. These loci are regulated by the SigD form of RNA polymerase. We also did not observe any methyl-accepting chemotaxis proteins in an in vivo methylation experiment. The expression of these proteins is also dependent upon SigD. It is possible that a functional basal body-hook complex may be required for the expression of SigD-regulated chemotaxis and motility genes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)710-719
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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