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Secrets of the Motor That Drives Archaea Revealed Print
Thursday, 14 February 2013 00:00

An international team led by John Tainer of the Life Sciences Division and Sonja-Verena Albers of the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology has solved the protein structure of the archaellum, the motor that propels motile species of Archaea (microorganisms), life’s third domain. The Albers lab zeroed in on the crucial protein with genetics, and Sophia Reindl of Tainer’s lab led the characterization using Beamline 8.3.1 and the SIBYLS beamline (Beamline 12.3.1) at the Advanced Light Source. A ring made of proteins hydrolyzes ATP and uses the energy to assemble and rotate the archaellum’s whiplike propeller.

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A wild-type S. acidocaldarius cell has only one to three archaella, so to see the results of deleting the FlaI gene the researchers created mutant strains with many archaella.