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Articles by Chunhao Li
Total Records ( 3 ) for Chunhao Li
  Yu Yang , Philip E. Stewart , Xiaoguang Shi and Chunhao Li
  Here, we report successful transposon mutagenesis in the oral spirochete Treponema denticola. A modified Himar1 transposon, including a new antibiotic selection cassette for T. denticola, generated mutations affecting cell division, transport, and chemotaxis, among other processes. This random mutagenesis system should facilitate research on the biology and pathogenesis of this spirochete, which is associated with human periodontal diseases.
  Melanie S. Sal , Chunhao Li , M. A. Motalab , Satoshi Shibata , Shin-Ichi Aizawa and Nyles W. Charon
  Borrelia burgdorferi is a flat-wave, motile spirochete that causes Lyme disease. Motility is provided by periplasmic flagella (PFs) located between the cell cylinder and an outer membrane sheath. The structure of these PFs, which are composed of a basal body, a hook, and a filament, is similar to the structure of flagella of other bacteria. To determine if hook formation influences flagellin gene transcription in B. burgdorferi, we inactivated the hook structural gene flgE by targeted mutagenesis. In many bacteria, completion of the hook structure serves as a checkpoint for transcriptional control of flagellum synthesis and other chemotaxis and motility genes. Specifically, the hook allows secretion of the anti-sigma factor FlgM and concomitant late gene transcription promoted by σ28. However, the control of B. burgdorferi PF synthesis differs from the control of flagellum synthesis in other bacteria; the gene encoding σ28 is not present in the genome of B. burgdorferi, nor are any σ28 promoter recognition sequences associated with the motility genes. We found that B. burgdorferi flgE mutants lacked PFs, were rod shaped, and were nonmotile, which substantiates previous evidence that PFs are involved in both cell morphology and motility. Although most motility and chemotaxis gene products accumulated at wild-type levels in the absence of FlgE, mutant cells had markedly decreased levels of the flagellar filament proteins FlaA and FlaB. Further analyses showed that the reduction in the levels of flagellin proteins in the spirochetes lacking FlgE was mediated at the posttranscriptional level. Taken together, our results indicate that in B. burgdorferi, the completion of the hook does not serve as a checkpoint for transcriptional regulation of flagellum synthesis. In addition, we also present evidence that the hook protein in B. burgdorferi forms a high-molecular-weight complex and that formation of this complex occurs in the periplasmic space.
  Chunhao Li , Charles W. Wolgemuth , Michael Marko , David G. Morgan and Nyles W. Charon
  The filaments of spirochete periplasmic flagella (PFs) have a unique structure and protein composition. In most spirochetes, the PFs consist of a core of at least three related proteins (FlaB1, FlaB2, and FlaB3) and a sheath of FlaA protein. The functions of these filament proteins remain unknown. In this study, we used a multidisciplinary approach to examine the role of these proteins in determining the composition, shape, and stiffness of the PFs and how these proteins impact motility by using the spirochete Brachyspira (formerly Treponema, Serpulina) hyodysenteriae as a genetic model. A series of double mutants lacking combinations of these PF proteins was constructed and analyzed. The results show the following. First, the diameters of PFs are primarily determined by the sheath protein FlaA, and that FlaA can form a sheath in the absence of an intact PF core. Although the sheath is important to the PF structure and motility, it is not essential. Second, the three core proteins play unequal roles in determining PF structure and swimming speed. The functions of the core proteins FlaB1 and FlaB2 overlap such that either one of these proteins is essential for the spirochete to maintain the intact PF structure and for cell motility. Finally, linear elasticity theory indicates that flagellar stiffness directly affects the spirochete’s swimming speed.
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