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Nat Cell Biol. 2009 Jun;11(6):717-23. doi: 10.1038/ncb1877. Epub 2009 May 10.

The mitotic kinesin-14 Ncd drives directional microtubule-microtubule sliding.

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  • 1Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Germany.


During mitosis and meiosis, the bipolar spindle facilitates chromosome segregation through microtubule sliding as well as microtubule growth and shrinkage. Kinesin-14, one of the motors involved, causes spindle collapse in the absence of kinesin-5 (Refs 2, 3), participates in spindle assembly and modulates spindle length. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying these activities are not known. Here, we report that Drosophila melanogaster kinesin-14 (Ncd) alone causes sliding of anti-parallel microtubules but locks together (that is, statically crosslinks) those that are parallel. Using single molecule imaging we show that Ncd diffuses along microtubules in a tail-dependent manner and switches its orientation between sliding microtubules. Our results show that kinesin-14 causes sliding and expansion of an anti-parallel microtubule array by dynamic interactions through the motor domain on the one side and the tail domain on the other. This mechanism accounts for the roles of kinesin-14 in spindle organization.

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