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Nat Chem Biol. 2005 Nov;1(6):338-41. Epub 2005 Oct 9.

A torque component in the kinesin-1 power stroke.

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Molecular Motors Group, Marie Curie Research Institute, The Chart, Oxted, Surrey RH8 0TL, UK.


Kinesin-1 is a twin-headed molecular motor that moves along microtubules in 8-nm steps, using a walking action in which the two heads interact alternately with the microtubule. Constructs with only one head can also produce impulses of force and motion, indicating that the walking action is an amplification strategy that leverages an underlying force-generating event. Recent work suggests that directional force is produced either by directionally biased selection of microtubule binding sites or by a conformational change subsequent to the binding event. We report here that surface-attached rat kinesin-1 monomers drive counterclockwise rotation of sliding microtubules around their axes, and that by manipulating the assay geometry, we could reduce or block the torsional motion with negligible effects on the axial motion. We can account for this behavior on the simple assumption that kinesin heads tend to bind to the closest available tubulin heterodimer in the lattice, but only in the case where an additional biasing process is present that shifts the start position for diffusion-to-capture toward the microtubule plus end by approximately 1 nm.

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