Two tandemly located flagellin genes, flaA and flaB, with 79% nucleotide sequence identity were identified in Aeromonas salmonicida A449. The fla genes are conserved in typical and atypical strains of A. salmonicida, and they display significant divergence at the nucleotide level from the fla genes of the motile species Aeromonas hydrophila and Aeromonas veronii biotype sobria. flaA and flaB encode unprocessed flagellins with predicted Mrs of 32,351 and 32,056, respectively. When cloned under the control of the Ptac promoter, flaB was highly expressed when induced in Escherichia coli DH5alpha, and the FlaB protein was detectable even in the uninduced state. In flaA clones containing intact upstream sequence, FlaA was barely detectable when uninduced and poorly expressed on induction. The A. salmonicida flagellins are antigenically cross-reactive with the A. hydrophila TF7 flagellin(s) and evolutionarily closely related to the flagellins of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Vibrio anguillarum. Electron microscopy showed that A. salmonicida A449 expresses unsheathed polar flagella at an extremely low frequency under normal laboratory growth conditions, suggesting the presence of a full complement of genes whose products are required to make flagella; e.g., immediately downstream of flaA and flaB are open reading frames encoding FlaG and FlaH homologs
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