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Biochemistry. 1999 Apr 20;38(16):5076-81.

Motility of dimeric ncd on a metal-chelating surfactant: evidence that ncd is not processive.

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Department of Bioengineering, University of Utah, Salt Lake City 84112, USA.


The surface immobilization methods that allowed single-molecule motility experiments with native kinesin have not worked with the ncd motor protein and other kinesin-related motors. To solve this problem, a surfactant (Pluronic F108) was chemically modified with the metal-chelating group nitrilotriacetic acid (NTA) to allow surface immobilization of histidine-tagged microtubule motors. The chelating surfactant provided a convenient and effective method for immobilization and subsequent motility experiments with a dimeric H-tagged ncd protein (H-N195). In experiments with the absorption of H-N195 to polystyrene (PS) beads coated with F108-NTA, a monolayer of H-N195 bound in the presence of Ni2+, while in the absence of Ni2+, the extent of adsorption of H-N195 to PS beads was greatly reduced. In motility experiments with H-N195 immobilized on F108-NTA-coated surfaces, microtubules moved smoothly and consistently at an average speed of 0.16 +/- 0.01 micrometer/s in the presence of Ni2+, while without Ni2+, no microtubules landed on the F108-NTA-coated surfaces. Investigation of H-N195 motility on the F108-NTA surfaces provided several indications that ncd, unlike kinesin, is not processive. First, a critical H-N195 surface density for microtubule motility of approximately 250 molecules/micrometer(2) was observed. Second, microtubule landing rates as a function of H-N195 surface density in the presence of MgATP suggested that several H-N195 molecules must cooperate in microtubule landing. Third, the ATP KM in motility assays (235 microM) was substantially higher than the ATP KM of dimeric ncd in solution (23 microM) [Foster, K. A., Correia, J. J., and Gilbert, S. P. (1998) J. Biol. Chem. 273, 35307-35318].

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