Assembly and Dynamics of the Bacterial Flagellum.

Annual review of microbiology 74 (2020) 181-200

JP Armitage, RM Berry

The bacterial flagellar motor is the most complex structure in the bacterial cell, driving the ion-driven rotation of the helical flagellum. The ordered expression of the regulon and the assembly of the series of interacting protein rings, spanning the inner and outer membranes to form the ∼45-50-nm protein complex, have made investigation of the structure and mechanism a major challenge since its recognition as a rotating nanomachine about 40 years ago. Painstaking molecular genetics, biochemistry, and electron microscopy revealed a tiny electric motor spinning in the bacterial membrane. Over the last decade, new single-molecule and in vivo biophysical methods have allowed investigation of the stability of this and other large protein complexes, working in their natural environment inside live cells. This has revealed that in the bacterial flagellar motor, protein molecules in both the rotor and stator exchange with freely circulating pools of spares on a timescale of minutes, even while motors are continuously rotating. This constant exchange has allowed the evolution of modified components allowing bacteria to keep swimming as the viscosity or the ion composition of the outside environment changes.

B cell zone reticular cell microenvironments shape CXCL13 gradient formation

Nature Communications Nature Research 11 (2020) 3677

J Cosgrove, M Novkovic, S Albrecht, NB Pikor, L Onder, U Morbe, A Thuery, P O'Toole, R Pinter, S Jarrett, E Taylor, D Venetz, M Heller, M Uguccioni, D Legler, C Lacey, A Coatesworth, W Polak, T Cupedo, B Manoury, M Thelen, M Wolf, J Timmis, B Ludewig, M Coles

Through the formation of concentration gradients, morphogens drive graded responses to extracellular signals, thereby fine-tuning cell behaviors in complex tissues. Here we show that the chemokine CXCL13 forms both soluble and immobilized gradients. Specifically, CXCL13+ follicular reticular cells form a small-world network of guidance structures, with computer simulations and optimization analysis predicting that immobilized gradients created by this network promote B cell trafficking. Consistent with this prediction, imaging analysis show that CXCL13 binds to extracellular matrix components in situ, constraining its diffusion. CXCL13 solubilization requires the protease cathepsin B that cleaves CXCL13 into a stable product. Mice lacking cathepsin B display aberrant follicular architecture, a phenotype associated with effective B cell homing to but not within lymph nodes. Our data thus suggest that reticular cells of the B cell zone generate microenvironments that shape both immobilized and soluble CXCL13 gradients.

Biophysical characterization of DNA origami nanostructures reveals inaccessibility to intercalation binding sites

Nanotechnology IOP Publishing (2020)

H Miller, KE Dunn, S Schroeter, S Contera, A Wollman, A Hirst, M Leake, D O'Connell

Load-dependent adaptation near zero load in the bacterial flagellar motor

Interface Royal Society 16 (2019) 20190300

JA Nirody, AL Nord, RM Berry

The bacterial flagellar motor is an ion-powered transmembrane protein complex which drives swimming in many bacterial species. The motor consists of a cytoplasmic ‘rotor’ ring and a number of ‘stator’ units, which are bound to the cell wall of the bacterium. Recently, it has been shown that the number of functional torque-generating stator units in the motor depends on the external load, and suggested that mechanosensing in the flagellar motor is driven via a ‘catch bond’ mechanism in the motor’s stator units. We present a method that allows us to measure—on a single motor—stator unit dynamics across a large range of external loads, including near the zero-torque limit. By attaching superparamagnetic beads to the flagellar hook, we can control the motor’s speed via a rotating magnetic field. We manipulate the motor to four different speed levels in two different ion-motive force (IMF) conditions. This framework allows for a deeper exploration into the mechanism behind load-dependent remodelling by separating out motor properties, such as rotation speed and energy availability in the form of IMF, that affect the motor torque. The bacterial flagellar motor (BFM) is an ion-driven nanomachine that drives swimming in a variety of bacterial species. The BFM couples the flow of cations (protons, in Escherichia coli) across the bacterial membrane to induce rotation in the flagellum, spinning the filament like a propeller to move the bacterium forward. The flagellar motor generates torque through interactions between the motor’s stator and rotor; specifically, torque is generated via an interaction between a stator unit (in E. coli, comprising the proteins MotA and MotB) and FliG protein ‘spokes’ that line the rotor’s cytoplasmic C-ring (figure 1a). The BFM’s stator can be composed of between 1 and at least 11 independent units.

Simultaneous Tracking of Pseudomonas aeruginosa Motility in Liquid and at the Solid-Liquid Interface Reveals Differential Roles for the Flagellar Stators.

mSystems 4 (2019)

AL Hook, JL Flewellen, J-F Dubern, AM Carabelli, IM Zaid, RM Berry, RD Wildman, N Russell, P Williams, MR Alexander

Bacteria sense chemicals, surfaces, and other cells and move toward some and away from others. Studying how single bacterial cells in a population move requires sophisticated tracking and imaging techniques. We have established quantitative methodology for label-free imaging and tracking of individual bacterial cells simultaneously within the bulk liquid and at solid-liquid interfaces by utilizing the imaging modes of digital holographic microscopy (DHM) in three dimensions (3D), differential interference contrast (DIC), and total internal reflectance microscopy (TIRM) in two dimensions (2D) combined with analysis protocols employing bespoke software. To exemplify and validate this methodology, we investigated the swimming behavior of a Pseudomonas aeruginosa wild-type strain and isogenic flagellar stator mutants (motAB and motCD) within the bulk liquid and at the surface at the single-cell and population levels. Multiple motile behaviors were observed that could be differentiated by speed and directionality. Both stator mutants swam slower and were unable to adjust to the near-surface environment as effectively as the wild type, highlighting differential roles for the stators in adapting to near-surface environments. A significant reduction in run speed was observed for the P. aeruginosa mot mutants, which decreased further on entering the near-surface environment. These results are consistent with the mot stators playing key roles in responding to the near-surface environment.IMPORTANCE We have established a methodology to enable the movement of individual bacterial cells to be followed within a 3D space without requiring any labeling. Such an approach is important to observe and understand how bacteria interact with surfaces and form biofilm. We investigated the swimming behavior of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which has two flagellar stators that drive its swimming motion. Mutants that had only either one of the two stators swam slower and were unable to adjust to the near-surface environment as effectively as the wild type. These results are consistent with the mot stators playing key roles in responding to the near-surface environment and could be used by bacteria to sense via their flagella when they are near a surface.

The power of three spatial dimensions

Nature Reviews Microbiology Springer Science and Business Media LLC (2019)

JH Khoo, HL Miller

A multi-mode digital holographic microscope

Review of Scientific Instruments AIP Publishing 90 (2019) 023705-

J Flewellen, I Zaid, R Berry

We present a transmission-mode digital holographic microscope that can switch easily between three different imaging modes: inline, dark field off-axis, and bright field off-axis. Our instrument can be used: to track through time in three dimensions microscopic dielectric objects, such as motile micro-organisms; localize brightly scattering nanoparticles, which cannot be seen under conventional bright field illumination; and recover topographic information and measure the refractive index and dry mass of samples via quantitative phase recovery. Holograms are captured on a digital camera capable of high-speed video recording of up to 2000 frames per second. The inline mode of operation can be easily configurable to a large range of magnifications. We demonstrate the efficacy of the inline mode in tracking motile bacteria in three dimensions in a 160 μm × 160 μm × 100 μm volume at 45× magnification. Through the use of a novel physical mask in a conjugate Fourier plane in the imaging path, we use our microscope for high magnification, dark field off-axis holography, demonstrated by localizing 100 nm gold nanoparticles at 225× magnification up to at least 16 μm from the imaging plane. Finally, the bright field off-axis mode facilitates quantitative phase microscopy, which we employ to measure the refractive index of a standard resolution test target and to measure the dry mass of human erythrocytes.

High-speed single-molecule tracking of CXCL13 in the B-Follicle

Frontiers in Immunology Frontiers Media 9 (2018) 1073

H Miller, J Cosgrove, A Wollman, E Taylor, Z Zhou, P O'Toole, M Coles, MC Leake

Soluble factors are an essential means of communication between cells and their environment. However, many molecules readily interact with extracellular matrix components, giving rise to multiple modes of diffusion. The molecular quantification of diffusion in situ is thus a challenging imaging frontier, requiring very high spatial and temporal resolution. Overcoming this methodological barrier is key to understanding the precise spatial patterning of the extracellular factors that regulate immune function. To address this, we have developed a high-speed light microscopy system capable of millisecond sampling in ex vivo tissue samples and submillisecond sampling in controlled in vitro samples to characterize molecular diffusion in a range of complex microenvironments. We demonstrate that this method outperforms competing tools for determining molecular mobility of fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) for evaluation of diffusion. We then apply this approach to study the chemokine CXCL13, a key determinant of lymphoid tissue architecture, and B-cell-mediated immunity. Super-resolution single-molecule tracking of fluorescently labeled CCL19 and CXCL13 in collagen matrix was used to assess the heterogeneity of chemokine mobility behaviors, with results indicating an immobile fraction and a mobile fraction for both molecules, with distinct diffusion rates of 8.4 ± 0.2 and 6.2 ± 0.3 µm2s−1, respectively. To better understand mobility behaviors in situ, we analyzed CXCL13-AF647 diffusion in murine lymph node tissue sections and observed both an immobile fraction and a mobile fraction with an example diffusion coefficient of 6.6 ± 0.4 µm2s−1, suggesting that mobility within the follicle is also multimodal. In quantitatively studying mobility behaviors at the molecular level, we have obtained an increased understanding of CXCL13 bioavailability within the follicle. Our high-speed single-molecule tracking approach affords a novel perspective from which to understand the mobility of soluble factors relevant to the immune system.

Subunit exchange in protein complexes

Journal of Molecular Biology Elsevier 430 (2018) 4557-4579

S Tusk, N Delalez, R Berry

Over the past 50 years, protein complexes have been studied with techniques such as X-ray crystallography and electron microscopy, generating images which although detailed are static and homogeneous. More recently, limited application of in vivo fluorescence and other techniques has revealed that many complexes previously thought stable and compositionally uniform are dynamically variable, continually exchanging components with a freely circulating pool of “spares.” Here, we consider the purpose and prevalence of protein exchange, first reviewing the ongoing story of exchange in the bacterial flagella motor, before surveying reports of exchange in complexes across all domains of life, together highlighting great diversity in timescales and functions. Finally, we put this in the context of high-throughput proteomic studies which hint that exchange might be the norm, rather than an exception.

Imaging of Single Dye-Labeled Chemotaxis Proteins in Live Bacteria Using Electroporation.

Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 1729 (2018) 233-246

D Di Paolo, RM Berry

For the last 2 decades, the use of genetically fused fluorescent proteins (FPs) has greatly contributed to the study of chemotactic signaling in E. coli, including the activation of the response regulator protein CheY and its interaction with the flagellar motor. However, this approach suffers from a number of limitations, both biological and biophysical. For example, not all fusions are fully functional when fused to a bulky FP, which can have a similar molecular weight to its fused counterpart. FPs may interfere with the native interactions of the protein, and their chromophores have low brightness and photostability, and fast photobleaching rates. Electroporation allows for internalization of purified CheY proteins labeled with organic dyes into E. coli cells in controllable concentrations. Using fluorescence video microscopy, it is possible to observe single CheY molecules diffusing within cells and interacting with the sensory clusters and the flagellar motors in real time.

Single-molecule techniques in biophysics: a review of the progress in methods and applications.

Reports on progress in physics. Physical Society (Great Britain) 81 (2018) 024601-024601

H Miller, Z Zhou, J Shepherd, AJM Wollman, MC Leake

Single-molecule biophysics has transformed our understanding of biology, but also of the physics of life. More exotic than simple soft matter, biomatter lives far from thermal equilibrium, covering multiple lengths from the nanoscale of single molecules to up to several orders of magnitude higher in cells, tissues and organisms. Biomolecules are often characterized by underlying instability: multiple metastable free energy states exist, separated by levels of just a few multiples of the thermal energy scale k B T, where k B is the Boltzmann constant and T absolute temperature, implying complex inter-conversion kinetics in the relatively hot, wet environment of active biological matter. A key benefit of single-molecule biophysics techniques is their ability to probe heterogeneity of free energy states across a molecular population, too challenging in general for conventional ensemble average approaches. Parallel developments in experimental and computational techniques have catalysed the birth of multiplexed, correlative techniques to tackle previously intractable biological questions. Experimentally, progress has been driven by improvements in sensitivity and speed of detectors, and the stability and efficiency of light sources, probes and microfluidics. We discuss the motivation and requirements for these recent experiments, including the underpinning mathematics. These methods are broadly divided into tools which detect molecules and those which manipulate them. For the former we discuss the progress of super-resolution microscopy, transformative for addressing many longstanding questions in the life sciences, and for the latter we include progress in 'force spectroscopy' techniques that mechanically perturb molecules. We also consider in silico progress of single-molecule computational physics, and how simulation and experimentation may be drawn together to give a more complete understanding. Increasingly, combinatorial techniques are now used, including correlative atomic force microscopy and fluorescence imaging, to probe questions closer to native physiological behaviour. We identify the trade-offs, limitations and applications of these techniques, and discuss exciting new directions.

Detergent-free ultrafast reconstitution of membrane proteins into lipid bilayers using fusogenic complementary-charged proteoliposomes

Journal of Visualized Experiments Journal of Visualized Experiments 134 (2018) e56909

MA Galkin, A Russell, SB Vik, R Berry, R Ishmukhametov

Detergents are indispensable for delivery of membrane proteins into 30-100 nm small unilamellar vesicles, while more complex, larger model lipid bilayers are less compatible with detergents. Here we describe a strategy for bypassing this fundamental limitation using fusogenic oppositely charged liposomes bearing a membrane protein of interest. Fusion between such vesicles occurs within 5 min in a low ionic strength buffer. Positively charged fusogenic liposomes can be used as simple shuttle vectors for detergent-free delivery of membrane proteins into biomimetic target lipid bilayers, which are negatively charged. We also show how to reconstitute membrane proteins into fusogenic proteoliposomes with a fast 30-min protocol. Combining these two approaches, we demonstrate a fast assembly of an electron transport chain consisting of two membrane proteins from E. coli, a primary proton pump bo 3 -oxidase and F 1 F o ATP synthase, in membranes of vesicles of various sizes, ranging from 0.1 to > 10 microns, as well as ATP production by this chain.

A catch-bond drives stator mechanosensitivity in the bacterial flagellar motor

Biophysical Journal Biophysical Society 114 (2018)

AL Nord, E Gachon, R Perez-Carrasco, J Nirody, A Barducci, RM Berry, F Pedaci

Torque generation in the bacterial flagellar motor

Biophysical Journal Elsevier 112 (2017) 30a-

JA Nirody, RM Berry, G Oster

Catch bond drives stator mechanosensitivity in the bacterial flagellar motor.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114 (2017) 12952-12957

AL Nord, E Gachon, R Perez-Carrasco, JA Nirody, A Barducci, RM Berry, F Pedaci

The bacterial flagellar motor (BFM) is the rotary motor that rotates each bacterial flagellum, powering the swimming and swarming of many motile bacteria. The torque is provided by stator units, ion motive force-powered ion channels known to assemble and disassemble dynamically in the BFM. This turnover is mechanosensitive, with the number of engaged units dependent on the viscous load experienced by the motor through the flagellum. However, the molecular mechanism driving BFM mechanosensitivity is unknown. Here, we directly measure the kinetics of arrival and departure of the stator units in individual motors via analysis of high-resolution recordings of motor speed, while dynamically varying the load on the motor via external magnetic torque. The kinetic rates obtained, robust with respect to the details of the applied adsorption model, indicate that the lifetime of an assembled stator unit increases when a higher force is applied to its anchoring point in the cell wall. This provides strong evidence that a catch bond (a bond strengthened instead of weakened by force) drives mechanosensitivity of the flagellar motor complex. These results add the BFM to a short, but growing, list of systems demonstrating catch bonds, suggesting that this "molecular strategy" is a widespread mechanism to sense and respond to mechanical stress. We propose that force-enhanced stator adhesion allows the cell to adapt to a heterogeneous environmental viscosity and may ultimately play a role in surface-sensing during swarming and biofilm formation.

A modular platform for one-step assembly of multi-component membrane systems by fusion of charged proteoliposomes

Nature Communications Nature Publishing Group 7 (2016) 13025

R Ishmukhametov, AN Russell, RM Berry

An important goal in synthetic biology is the assembly of biomimetic cell-like structures, which combine multiple biological components in synthetic lipid vesicles. A key limiting assembly step is the incorporation of membrane proteins into the lipid bilayer of the vesicles. Here we present a simple method for delivery of membrane proteins into a lipid bilayer within 5 min. Fusogenic proteoliposomes, containing charged lipids and membrane proteins, fuse with oppositely charged bilayers, with no requirement for detergent or fusion-promoting proteins, and deliver large, fragile membrane protein complexes into the target bilayers. We demonstrate the feasibility of our method by assembling a minimal electron transport chain capable of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) synthesis, combining Escherichia coli F1Fo ATP-synthase and the primary proton pump bo3-oxidase, into synthetic lipid vesicles with sizes ranging from 100 nm to ∼10 μm. This provides a platform for the combination of multiple sets of membrane protein complexes into cell-like artificial structures.

Mutations targeting the plug-domain of the Shewanella oneidensis proton-driven stator allow swimming at increased viscosity and under anaerobic conditions

Molecular Microbiology John Wiley & Sons Ltd 102 (2016) 925-938

S Brenzinger, L Dewenter, NJ Delalez, O Leicht, V Berndt, RM Berry, M Thanbichler, J Armitage, B Maier, KM Thormann

Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 possesses two different stator units to drive flagellar rotation, the Na+-dependent PomAB stator and the H+-driven MotAB stator, the latter possibly acquired by lateral gene transfer. Although either stator can independently drive swimming through liquid, MotAB-driven motors cannot support efficient motility in structured environments or swimming under anaerobic conditions. Using ΔpomAB cells we isolated spontaneous mutants able to move through soft agar. We show that a mutation that alters the structure of the plug domain in MotB affects motor functions and allows cells to swim through media of increased viscosity and under anaerobic conditions. The number and exchange rates of the mutant stator around the rotor were not significantly different from wild-type stators, suggesting that the number of stators engaged is not the cause of increased swimming efficiency. The swimming speeds of planktonic mutant MotAB-driven cells was reduced, and overexpression of some of these stators caused reduced growth rates, implying that mutant stators not engaged with the rotor allow some proton leakage. The results suggest that the mutations in the MotB plug domain alter the proton interactions with the stator ion channel in a way that both increases torque output and allows swimming at decreased pmf values. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Transient pauses of the bacterial flagellar motor at low load


AL Nord, F Pedaci, RM Berry

Single-molecule imaging of electroporated dye-labelled CheY in live Escherichia coli

Philosophical Transactions B: Biological Sciences Royal Society 371 (2016) 20150492-

D Di Paolo, O Afanzar, J Armitage, R Berry

For the past two decades, the use of genetically fused fluorescent proteins (FPs) has greatly contributed to the study of chemotactic signalling in Escherichia coli including the activation of the response regulator protein CheY and its interaction with the flagellar motor. However, this approach suffers from a number of limitations, both biological and biophysical: for example, not all fusions are fully functional when fused to a bulky FP, which can have a similar molecular weight to its fused counterpart; they may interfere with the native interactions of the protein and the chromophores of FPs have low brightness and photostability and fast photobleaching rates. A recently developed technique for the electroporation of fluorescently labelled proteins in live bacteria has enabled us to bypass these limitations and study the in vivo behaviour of CheY at the single-molecule level. Here we show that purified CheY proteins labelled with organic dyes can be internalized into E. coli cells in controllable concentrations and imaged with video fluorescence microscopy. The use of this approach is illustrated by showing single CheY molecules diffusing within cells and interacting with the sensory clusters and the flagellar motors in real time.

An automated image analysis framework for segmentation and division plane detection of single live Staphylococcus aureus cells which can operate at millisecond sampling time scales using bespoke Slimfield microscopy

Physical Biology 13 (2016) 055002-055002

AJM Wollman, H Miller, S Foster, MC Leake