The bacterial flagellum is the principal organelle of motility in bacteria. Here, we address the question of size when applied to the chief flagellar protein flagellin and the flagellar filament. Surprisingly, nature furnishes multiple examples of ‘giant flagellins’ greater than a thousand amino acids in length, with large surface-exposed hypervariable domains. We review the contexts in which these giant flagellins occur, speculate as to their functions, and highlight the potential for biotechnology to build on what nature provides.
- bacterial flagellum
- surface display