Location and architecture of the Caulobacter crescentus chemoreceptor array


*E-mail jensen@caltech.edu; Tel. (+45) 626 395 8827; Fax (+45) 626 395 5730.


A new method for recording both fluorescence and cryo-EM images of small bacterial cells was developed and used to identify chemoreceptor arrays in cryotomograms of intact Caulobacter crescentus cells. We show that in wild-type cells preserved in a near-native state, the chemoreceptors are hexagonally packed with a lattice spacing of 12 nm, just a few tens of nanometers away from the flagellar motor that they control. The arrays were always found on the convex side of the cell, further demonstrating that Caulobacter cells maintain dorsal/ventral as well as anterior/posterior asymmetry. Placing the known crystal structure of a trimer of receptor dimers at each vertex of the lattice accounts well for the density and agrees with other constraints. Based on this model for the arrangement of receptors, there are between one and two thousand receptors per array.