How nature engineered the original rotary motor
The bacterial flagellum is one of nature’s smallest motors, rotating at up to 60,000 revolutions per minute. To function properly and propel the bacterium, the flagellum requires all of its components to fit together to exacting measurements. In a study published in Science, University of Utah researchers report the eludication of a mechanism that regulates the length of the flagellum’s 25 nanometer driveshaft-like rod and answers a long-standing question about how cells are held together.
While the biomechanical controls that determine the dimensions of other flagellar components have already been determined, the control of the length of the rod, a rigid shaft that transfers torque from the flagellar motor in the interior of the cell to the external propeller filament, were unknown. “Since the majority of the machine is assembled outside the cell there have to be mechanisms for self-assembly and also to determine optimal lengths of different components,” says biology professor Kelly Hughes. “How does it do that?”Paper. (paywall) – Eli J. Cohen, Josie L. Ferreira, Mark S. Ladinsky, Morgan Beeby, Kelly T. Hughes. Nanoscale-length control of the flagellar driveshaft requires hitting the tethered outer membrane. Science, 2017; 356 (6334): 197 DOI: 10.1126/science.aam6512More.
Curious that the authors don’t feel they need to watch their language here.
See also: Complexity of bacterial flagellum studied
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