Structure and Assembly of the Bacterial Flagellum

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2 Citations (Scopus)


The bacterial flagellum is a large macromolecular assembly that acts as propeller, providing motility through the rotation of a long extracellular filament. It is composed of over 20 different proteins, many of them highly oligomeric. Accordingly, it has attracted a huge amount of interest amongst researchers and the wider public alike. Nonetheless, most of its molecular details had long remained elusive.This however has changed recently, with the emergence of cryo-EM to determine the structure of protein assemblies at near-atomic resolution. Within a few years, the atomic details of most of the flagellar components have been elucidated, revealing not only its overall architecture but also the molecular details of its rotation mechanism. However, many questions remained unaddressed, notably on the complexity of the assembly of such an intricate machinery.In this chapter, we review the current state of our understanding of the bacterial flagellum structure, focusing on the recent development from cryo-EM. We also highlight the various elements that still remain to be fully characterized. Finally, we summarize the existing model for flagellum assembly and discuss some of the outstanding questions that are still pending in our understanding of the diversity of assembly pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-420
Number of pages26
JournalSub-Cellular Biochemistry
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2022


  • Bacterial motility
  • Bacterial secretion systems
  • Cryo-EM
  • Macromolecular structure
  • Membrane proteins


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