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Nat Cell Biol. 2003 Dec;5(12):1079-82. Epub 2003 Nov 23.

Alternate fast and slow stepping of a heterodimeric kinesin molecule.

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Gene Function Research Center, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8562, Japan.


A conventional kinesin molecule travels continuously along a microtubule in discrete 8-nm steps. This processive movement is generally explained by models in which the two identical heads of a kinesin move in a 'hand-over-hand' manner. Here, we show that a single heterodimeric kinesin molecule (in which one of the two heads is mutated in a nucleotide-binding site) exhibits fast and slow (with the dwell time at least 10 times longer than that of the fast step) 8-nm steps alternately, presumably corresponding to the displacement by the wild-type and mutant heads, respectively. Our results provide the first direct evidence for models in which the roles of the two heads alternate every 8-nm step.

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