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J Struct Biol. 2004 Apr-May;146(1-2):205-16.

The structure of dynein-c by negative stain electron microscopy.

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  • 1Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology and School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK. s.a.burgess@leeds.ac.uk


Dynein ATPases contain six concatenated AAA modules within the motor region of their heavy chains. Additional regions of sequence are required to form a functional ATPase, which a previous study suggested forms seven or eight subdomains arranged in either a ring or hollow sphere. A more recent homology model of the six AAA modules suggests that these form a ring. Therefore both the number and arrangement of subdomains remain uncertain. We show two-dimensional projection images of dynein-c in negative stain which reveal new details of its structure. Initial electron cryomicroscopy shows a similar overall morphology. The molecule consists of three domains: stem, head, and stalk. In the absence of nucleotide the head has seven lobes of density forming an asymmetric ring. An eighth lobe protrudes from one side of this heptameric ring and appears to join the elongated cargo-binding stem. The proximal stem is flexible, as is the stalk, suggesting that they act as compliant elements within the motor. A new analysis of pre- and post-power stroke conformations shows the combined effect of their flexibility on the spatial distribution of the microtubule-binding domain and therefore the potential range of power stroke sizes. We present and compare two alternative models of the structure of dynein.

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