Construction and loss of bacterial flagellar filaments

Xiang Yu Zhuang, Chien Jung Lo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The bacterial flagellar filament is an extracellular tubular protein structure that acts as a propeller for bacterial swimming motility. It is connected to the membrane-anchored rotary bacterial flagellar motor through a short hook. The bacterial flagellar filament consists of approximately 20,000 flagellins and can be several micrometers long. In this article, we reviewed the experimental works and models of flagellar filament construction and the recent findings of flagellar filament ejection during the cell cycle. The length-dependent decay of flagellar filament growth data supports the injection-diffusion model. The decay of flagellar growth rate is due to reduced transportation of long-distance diffusion and jamming. However, the filament is not a permeant structure. Several bacterial species actively abandon their flagella under starvation. Flagellum is disassembled when the rod is broken, resulting in an ejection of the filament with a partial rod and hook. The inner membrane component is then diffused on the membrane before further breakdown. These new findings open a new field of bacterial macro-molecule assembly, disassembly, and signal transduction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1528
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Flagellar ejection
  • Injection-diffusion model
  • Self-assembly


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