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Biophys J. 2012 Jul 3;103(1):48-58. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2012.05.037.

Force-dependent detachment of kinesin-2 biases track switching at cytoskeletal filament intersections.

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Pennsylvania Muscle Institute and Department of Physiology, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


Intracellular trafficking of organelles often involves cytoskeletal track switching. Organelles such as melanosomes are transported by multiple motors including kinesin-2, dynein, and myosin-V, which drive switching between microtubules and actin filaments during dispersion and aggregation. Here, we used optical trapping to determine the unitary and ensemble forces of kinesin-2, and to reconstitute cargo switching at cytoskeletal intersections in a minimal system with kinesin-2 and myosin-V motors bound to beads. Single kinesin-2 motors exerted forces up to ∼5 pN, similar to kinesin-1. However, kinesin-2 motors were more likely to detach at submaximal forces, and the duration of force maintenance was short as compared to kinesin-1. In multimotor assays, force increased with kinesin-2 density but was not affected by the presence of myosin-V. In crossed filament assays, switching frequencies of motor-bound beads were dependent on the starting track. At equal average forces, beads tended to switch from microtubules onto overlying actin filaments consistent with the relatively faster detachment of kinesin-2 at near-maximal forces. Thus, in addition to relative force, switching probability at filament intersections is determined by the dynamics of motor-filament interaction, such as the quick detachment of kinesin-2 under load. This may enable fine-tuning of filament switching in the cell.

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