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J Biol Chem. 1999 May 21;274(21):14617-23.

Formation of the compact confomer of kinesin requires a COOH-terminal heavy chain domain and inhibits microtubule-stimulated ATPase activity.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.


Full-length Drosophila kinesin heavy chain from position 1 to 975 was expressed in Escherichia coil (DKH975) and is a dimer. The sedimentation coefficient of DKH975 shifts from 5.4 S at 1 M NaCl to approximately 6.9 S at <0.2 M NaCl. This transition of DKH975 between extended and compact conformations is essentially identical to that for the heavy chain dimer of bovine kinesin (Hackney, D. D., Levitt, J. D., and Suhan, J. (1992) J. Biol. Chem. 267, 8696-8701). Thus the capacity for undergoing the 7 S/5 S transition is an intrinsic property of the heavy chains and requires neither light chains nor eukaryotic post-translational modification. DKH960 undergoes a similar transition, indicating that the extreme COOH-terminal region is not required. More extensive deletions from the COOH-terminal (DKH945 and DKH937) result in a shift in the midpoint for the transition to lower salt concentrations. DKH927 and shorter constructs remaining extended even in the absence of added salt. Thus the COOH-terminal approximately 50 amino acids are required for the formation of the compact conformation. Separately expressed COOH-terminal tail segments and NH2-terminal head/neck segments interact in a salt-dependent manner that is consistent with the compact conformer being produced by the interaction of domains from these regions of the heavy chain dimer. The microtubule-stimulated ATPase rate of DKH975 in the compact conformer is strongly inhibited compared with the rate of extended DKH894 (4 s-1 and 35 s-1, respectively, for kcat at saturating microtubules).

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