Kinesin's neck-linker determines its ability to navigate obstacles on the microtubule surface.
ABSTRACT: The neck-linker is a structurally conserved region among most members of the kinesin superfamily of molecular motor proteins that is critical for kinesin's processive transport of intracellular cargo along the microtubule surface. Variation in the neck-linker length has been shown to directly modulate processivity in different kinesin families; for example, kinesin-1, with a shorter neck-linker, is more processive than kinesin-2. Although small differences in processivity are likely obscured in vivo by the coupling of most cargo to multiple motors, longer and more flexible neck-linkers may allow different kinesins to navigate more efficiently around the many obstacles, including microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs), that are found on the microtubule surface within cells. We hypothesize that, due to its longer neck-linker, kinesin-2 can more easily navigate obstacles (e.g., MAPs) on the microtubule surface than kinesin-1. We used total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy to observe single-molecule motility from different kinesin-1 and kinesin-2 neck-linker chimeras stepping along microtubules in the absence or presence of two Tau isoforms, 3RS-Tau and 4RL-Tau, both of which are MAPs that are known to differentially affect kinesin-1 motility. Our results demonstrate that unlike kinesin-1, kinesin-2 is insensitive to the presence of either Tau isoform, and appears to have the ability to switch protofilaments while stepping along the microtubule when challenged by an obstacle, such as Tau. Thus, although kinesin-1 may be more processive, the longer neck-linker length of kinesin-2 allows it to be better optimized to navigate the complex microtubule landscape. These results provide new insight, to our knowledge, into how kinesin-1 and kinesin-2 may work together for the efficient delivery of cargo in cells.
Project description:Defining the mechanical and biochemical determinates of kinesin processivity is important for understanding how diverse kinesins are tuned for specific cellular functions. Because transmission of mechanical forces through the 14-18 amino acid neck linker domain underlies coordinated stepping, we investigated the role of neck linker length, charge, and structure in kinesin-1 and kinesin-2 motor behavior. For optimum comparison with kinesin-1, the KIF3A head and neck linker of kinesin-2 were fused to the kinesin-1 neck coil and rod. Extending the 14-residue kinesin-1 neck linker reduced processivity, and shortening the 17-residue kinesin-2 neck linker enhanced processivity. When a proline in the kinesin-2 neck linker was replaced, kinesin-1 and kinesin-2 run lengths scaled identically with neck linker length, despite moving at different speeds. In low-ionic-strength buffer, charge had a dominant effect on motor processivity, which resolves ongoing controversy regarding the effect of neck linker length on kinesin processivity. From stochastic simulations, the results are best explained by neck linker extension slowing strain-dependent detachment of the rear head along with diminishing strain-dependent inhibition of ATP binding. These results help delineate how interhead strain maximizes stepping and suggest that less processive kinesins are tuned to coordinate with other motors differently than the maximally processive kinesin-1.
Project description:Kinesin-1, -2, -5, and -7 generate processive hand-over-hand 8-nm steps to transport intracellular cargoes toward the microtubule plus end. This processive motility requires gating mechanisms to coordinate the mechanochemical cycles of the two motor heads to sustain the processive run. A key structural element believed to regulate the degree of processivity is the neck-linker, a short peptide of 12-18 residues, which connects the motor domain to its coiled-coil stalk. Although a shorter neck-linker has been correlated with longer run lengths, the structural data to support this hypothesis have been lacking. To test this hypothesis, seven kinesin structures were determined by x-ray crystallography. Each included the neck-linker motif, followed by helix ?7 that constitutes the start of the coiled-coil stalk. In the majority of the structures, the neck-linker length differed from predictions because helix ?7, which initiates the coiled-coil, started earlier in the sequence than predicted. A further examination of structures in the Protein Data Bank reveals that there is a great disparity between the predicted and observed starting residues. This suggests that an accurate prediction of the start of a coiled-coil is currently difficult to achieve. These results are significant because they now exclude simple comparisons between members of the kinesin superfamily and add a further layer of complexity when interpreting the results of mutagenesis or protein fusion. They also re-emphasize the need to consider factors beyond the kinesin neck-linker motif when attempting to understand how inter-head communication is tuned to achieve the degree of processivity required for cellular function.
Project description:Kinesin-2 motors, which are involved in intraflagellar transport and cargo transport along cytoplasmic microtubules, differ from motors in the canonical kinesin-1 family by having a heterodimeric rather than homodimeric structure and possessing a three amino acid insertion in their neck linker domain. To determine how these structural features alter the chemomechanical coupling in kinesin-2, we used single-molecule bead experiments to measure the processivity and velocity of mouse kinesin-2 heterodimer (KIF3A/B) and the engineered homodimers KIF3A/A and KIF3B/B and compared their behavior to Drosophila kinesin-1 heavy chain (KHC). Single-motor run lengths of kinesin-2 were 4-fold shorter than those of kinesin-1. Extending the kinesin-1 neck linker by three amino acids led to a similar reduction in processivity. Furthermore, kinesin-2 processivity varied inversely with ATP concentration. Stochastic simulations of the kinesin-1 and kinesin-2 hydrolysis cycles suggest that "front-head gating," in which rearward tension prevents ATP binding to the front head when both heads are bound to the microtubule, is diminished in kinesin-2. Because the mechanical tension that underlies front-head gating must be transmitted through the neck linker domains, we propose that the diminished coordination in kinesin-2 is a result of its longer and, hence, more compliant neck linker element.
Project description:Conventional kinesin, a dimeric molecular motor, uses ATP-dependent conformational changes to move unidirectionally along a row of tubulin subunits on a microtubule. Two models have been advanced for the major structural change underlying kinesin motility: the first involves an unzippering/zippering of a small peptide (neck linker) from the motor catalytic core and the second proposes an unwinding/rewinding of the adjacent coiled-coil (neck coiled-coil). Here, we have tested these models using disulfide cross-linking of cysteines engineered into recombinant kinesin motors. When the neck linker motion was prevented by cross-linking, kinesin ceased unidirectional movement and only showed brief one-dimensional diffusion along microtubules. Motility fully recovered upon adding reducing agents to reverse the cross-link. When the neck linker motion was partially restrained, single kinesin motors showed biased diffusion towards the microtubule plus end but could not move effectively against a load imposed by an optical trap. Thus, partial movement of the neck linker suffices for directionality but not for normal processivity or force generation. In contrast, preventing neck coiled-coil unwinding by disulfide cross-linking had relatively little effect on motor activity, although the average run length of single kinesin molecules decreased by 30-50%. These studies indicate that conformational changes in the neck linker, not in the neck coiled-coil, drive processive movement by the kinesin motor.
Project description:Mammalian KIF3AC is classified as a heterotrimeric kinesin-2 that is best known for organelle transport in neurons, yet in vitro studies to characterize its single molecule behavior are lacking. The results presented show that a KIF3AC motor that includes the native helix ?7 sequence for coiled-coil formation is highly processive with run lengths of ?1.23 ?m and matching those exhibited by conventional kinesin-1. This result was unexpected because KIF3AC exhibits the canonical kinesin-2 neck-linker sequence that has been reported to be responsible for shorter run lengths observed for another heterotrimeric kinesin-2, KIF3AB. However, KIF3AB with its native neck linker and helix ?7 is also highly processive with run lengths of ?1.62 ?m and exceeding those of KIF3AC and kinesin-1. Loop L11, a component of the microtubule-motor interface and implicated in activating ADP release upon microtubule collision, is significantly extended in KIF3C as compared with other kinesins. A KIF3AC encoding a truncation in KIF3C loop L11 (KIF3AC?L11) exhibited longer run lengths at ?1.55 ?m than wild-type KIF3AC and were more similar to KIF3AB run lengths, suggesting that L11 also contributes to tuning motor processivity. The steady-state ATPase results show that shortening L11 does not alter kcat, consistent with the observation that single molecule velocities are not affected by this truncation. However, shortening loop L11 of KIF3C significantly increases the microtubule affinity of KIF3AC?L11, revealing another structural and mechanistic property that can modulate processivity. The results presented provide new, to our knowledge, insights to understand structure-function relationships governing processivity and a better understanding of the potential of KIF3AC for long-distance transport in neurons.
Project description:We have previously shown that the mitotic motor centrosome protein E (CENP-E) is capable of walking for more than 250 steps on its microtubule track without dissociating. We have examined the kinetics of this molecular motor to see if its enzymology explains this remarkable degree of processivity. We find that like the highly processive transport motor kinesin 1, the enzymatic cycle of CENP-E is characterized by rapid ATP binding, multiple enzymatic turnovers per diffusive encounter, and gating of nucleotide binding. These features endow CENP-E with a high duty cycle, a prerequisite for processivity. However, unlike kinesin 1, neck linker docking in CENP-E is slow, occurring at a rate closer to that for Eg5, a mitotic kinesin that takes only 5-10 steps per processive run. These results suggest that like kinesin 1, features outside of the catalytic domain of CENP-E may also play a role in regulating the processive behavior of this motor.
Project description:Axonal transport involves kinesin motors trafficking cargo along microtubules that are rich in microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs). Much attention has focused on the behavior of kinesin-1 in the presence of MAPs, which has overshadowed understanding the contribution of other kinesins such as kinesin-2 in axonal transport. We have previously shown that, unlike kinesin-1, kinesin-2 in vitro motility is insensitive to the neuronal MAP Tau. However, the mechanism by which kinesin-2 efficiently navigates Tau on the microtubule surface is unknown. We hypothesized that mammalian kinesin-2 side-steps to adjacent protofilaments to maneuver around MAPs. To test this, we used single-molecule imaging to track the characteristic run length and protofilament switching behavior of kinesin-1 and kinesin-2 motors in the absence and presence of 2 different microtubule obstacles. Under all conditions tested, kinesin-2 switched protofilaments more frequently than kinesin-1. Using computational modeling that recapitulates run length and switching frequencies in the presence of varying roadblock densities, we conclude that kinesin-2 switches protofilaments to navigate around microtubule obstacles. Elucidating the kinesin-2 mechanism of navigation on the crowded microtubule surface provides a refined view of its contribution in facilitating axonal transport.
Project description:Consistent with their diverse intracellular roles, the processivity of N-terminal kinesin motors varies considerably between different families. Kinetics experiments on isolated motor domains suggest that differences in processivity result from differences in the underlying biochemistry of the catalytic heads. However, the length of the flexible neck linker domain also varies from 14 to 18 residues between families. Because the neck linker acts as a mechanical element that transmits interhead tension, altering its mechanical properties is expected to affect both front and rear head gating, mechanisms that underlie processive walking. To test the hypothesis that processivity differences result from family-specific differences in neck linker mechanics, we systematically altered the neck linker length in kinesin-1, -2, -3, -5, and -7 motors and measured run length and velocity in a single-molecule fluorescence assay. Shortening the neck linkers of kinesin-3 (Unc104/KIF1A) and kinesin-5 (Eg5/KSP) to 14 residues enhanced processivity to match kinesin-1, which has a 14-residue neck linker. After substituting a single residue in the last alpha helix of the catalytic core, kinesin-7 (CENP-E) exhibited this same behavior. This convergence of processivity was observed even though motor speeds varied over a 25-fold range. These results suggest that differences in unloaded processivity between diverse kinesins is primarily due to differences in the lengths of their neck linker domains rather than specific tuning of rate constants in their ATP hydrolysis cycles.
Project description:As the smallest and simplest motor enzymes, kinesins have served as the prototype for understanding the relationship between protein structure and mechanochemical function of enzymes in this class. Conventional kinesin (kinesin-1) is a motor enzyme that transports cargo toward the plus end of microtubules by a processive, asymmetric hand-over-hand mechanism. The coiled-coil neck domain, which connects the two kinesin motor domains, contributes to kinesin processivity (the ability to take many steps in a row) and is proposed to be a key determinant of the asymmetry in the kinesin mechanism. While previous studies have defined the orientation and position of microtubule-bound kinesin motor domains, the disposition of the neck coiled-coil remains uncertain. We determined the neck coiled-coil orientation using a multidonor fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) technique to measure distances between microtubules and bound kinesin molecules. Microtubules were labeled with a new fluorescent taxol donor, TAMRA-X-taxol, and kinesin derivatives with an acceptor fluorophore attached at positions on the motor and neck coiled-coil domains were used to reconstruct the positions and orientations of the domains. FRET measurements to positions on the motor domain were largely consistent with the domain orientation determined in previous studies, validating the technique. Measurements to positions on the neck coiled-coil were inconsistent with a radial orientation and instead demonstrated that the neck coiled-coil is parallel to the microtubule surface. The measured orientation provides a structural explanation for how neck surface residues enhance processivity and suggests a simple hypothesis for the origin of kinesin step asymmetry and "limping."
Project description:Kinesin-1 is a dimeric motor protein, central to intracellular transport, that steps hand-over-hand toward the microtubule (MT) plus-end, hydrolyzing one ATP molecule per step. Its remarkable processivity is critical for ferrying cargo within the cell: over 100 successive steps are taken, on average, before dissociation from the MT. Despite considerable work, it is not understood which features coordinate, or "gate," the mechanochemical cycles of the two motor heads. Here, we show that kinesin dissociation occurs subsequent to, or concomitant with, phosphate (P(i)) release following ATP hydrolysis. In optical trapping experiments, we found that increasing the steady-state population of the posthydrolysis ADP · P(i) state (by adding free P(i)) nearly doubled the kinesin run length, whereas reducing either the ATP binding rate or hydrolysis rate had no effect. The data suggest that, during processive movement, tethered-head binding occurs subsequent to hydrolysis, rather than immediately after ATP binding, as commonly suggested. The structural change driving motility, thought to be neck linker docking, is therefore completed only upon hydrolysis, and not ATP binding. Our results offer additional insights into gating mechanisms and suggest revisions to prevailing models of the kinesin reaction cycle.