Congratulations to the Sindelar lab on their third publication of the year. This article published in eLife examines how asymmetric sheaths contribute to flagellar supercoiling and motility in Leptospira spirochete. These bacteria exhibit a unique mechanism of swimming which involves spiraling and jittering of the entire cell controlled by the bacteria’s endoflagella. While it is known that supercoiling is critical to this type of motion in spirochete, the structural properties contributing to this supercoiling was unknown.
Using high-resolution cryo-electron tomography and X-ray crystallography, the structure of native flagellar filaments was solved. Interestingly, the Sindelar lab showed that the flagellar filaments are coated by highly asymmetric sheath. This asymmetry has not been observed in either exoflagellated bacteria or other spirochetes. This novel structural function was discovered because of an innovative approach where subatomic averaging was used to solve the structure of the supercoiled form in wild-type flagellar filaments as opposed to mutant forms which are often used in other studies.
Read the full article here: https://elifesciences.org/articles/53672
By: Jake Thrasher