1. Immunology and Inflammation
  2. Microbiology and Infectious Disease
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Animal-microbe Interactions: A twist in the tail

  1. Karen Guillemin  Is a corresponding author
  2. Annah S Rolig
  1. Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Oregon, United States
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Cite this article as: eLife 2014;3:e02386 doi: 10.7554/eLife.02386
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Vibrio fischeri and the Hawaiian bobtail squid.

V. fischeri is one of a few bacterial species that cover their flagella in a sheath derived from their outer membrane (shown in beige). Previously it was thought that this sheath only stopped a protein called flagellin being shed from the flagellum, and thus prevented this protein being detected by the immune system of the host. Brennan et al. have now redefined the function of the flagella sheath by showing that rotation of V. fischeri’s sheathed flagella (depicted by the black arrow) induces the release of lipopolysaccharide (LPS, beige rectangles), and that LPS is required to trigger apoptosis and other changes in the squid to accommodate the bacteria. V. fischeri mutants whose flagella do not rotate (motB1 and motX) release significantly less LPS and do not induce apoptosis. Many other bacteria, such as E. coli, have unsheathed flagella that shed flagellin monomers (black rectangles); however, both wild-type E. coli and mutants that cannot rotate their flagella (motAB) shed similar low levels of LPS.

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