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Science. 2011 Mar 4;331(6021):1159-65. doi: 10.1126/science.1202393. Epub 2011 Feb 17.

Crystal structure of the dynein motor domain.

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  • 1Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California-San Francisco, 600 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA.


Dyneins are microtubule-based motor proteins that power ciliary beating, transport intracellular cargos, and help to construct the mitotic spindle. Evolved from ring-shaped hexameric AAA-family adenosine triphosphatases (ATPases), dynein's large size and complexity have posed challenges for understanding its structure and mechanism. Here, we present a 6 angstrom crystal structure of a functional dimer of two ~300-kilodalton motor domains of yeast cytoplasmic dynein. The structure reveals an unusual asymmetric arrangement of ATPase domains in the ring-shaped motor domain, the manner in which the mechanical element interacts with the ATPase ring, and an unexpected interaction between two coiled coils that create a base for the microtubule binding domain. The arrangement of these elements provides clues as to how adenosine triphosphate-driven conformational changes might be transmitted across the motor domain.

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