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J Bacteriol Virol. 2008 Mar;38(1):1-10. English. Original Article.
Kim SY , Hong HY , Rhee JH , Chung SS .
Clinical Vaccine R&D Center, Chonnam National University Hwasun Hospital, Jeonnam, Korea.
Research Institute of Vibrio Infections and Genome Research Center for Enteropathogenic Bacteria, Chonnam National University Medical School, Gwangju, Korea.
National Research Laboratory of Molecular Microbial Pathogenesis and Department of Microbiology, Chonnam National University Medical School, Gwangju, Korea.

The bacterial flagellar structure can be divided into the basal body, the hook and the filament. Three minor components called hook associated proteins (HAP1, HAP2 and HAP3) form a junction between the hook and the filament (HAP1 and HAP3) and a capping structure at the distal end of flagellar filament (HAP2). Vibrio vulnificus is a halophilic pathogenic bacterium that is locomotive by means of a polar flagellum. From a V. vulnificus genome sequencing project, we obtained sequences of V. vulnificus flgK (Vv-flgK), flgL (Vv-flgL), and flaH (Vv-flaH) genes that encode HAP1, HAP3, and HAP2, respectively. To investigate roles of the HAP proteins, deletion mutants of the Vv-flgK, Vv-flgL and Vv-flaH were constructed. Electron microscopic analysis showed that the Vv-flgK or Vv-flgL mutant did not produce an intact polar flagellum while the Vv-flaH mutant produced a fragile flagellar structure. Western blot analysis against a major polar flagellin proposed that the null HAP1 and HAP3 mutations resulted in a failure of normal flagellar assembly since flagellins produced by the mutants were secreted out in the culture supernatants without long flagellar filaments. Motility was completely abolished by a single mutation in HAP1 or HAP3, and the HAP2 mutant showed a decreased motility. Also each of the mutants showed an impaired cytotoxicity and adherence to HeLa cell compared with the isogenic wild type strain. LD(50) increased by 10- and 11-fold in the V. vulnificus HAP3 and HAP2 mutant, respectively. These results suggest that the HAP proteins play important roles in polar flagellation and the virulence of V. vulnificus.

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