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Press Release 08-105

Microscopic "Clutch" Puts Flagellum in Neutral

Insights into the workings of the flagellum may advance nanotechnology

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Illustration of the mechanism that stops the flagellum of a bacteria.

Swimming helps bacteria look for food, escape bad conditions and disperse their genes. But when a bacterium needs to stop swimming, it produces a free-floating clutch (a protein shown in red), that sits down on a gear-like ring (orange), moving that gear away from the engine that spins the bacterium's flagellum. By disengaging the engine from the flagellum's other moving parts, the flagellum's tail is no longer driven to spin.

Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation


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Photo of the June 20, 2008 issue of Science.

The June 20, 2008 issue of Science.

Credit: Copyright 2008 AAAS


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