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Nature. 1989 Mar 23;338(6213):355-7.

Identification of globular mechanochemical heads of kinesin.

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Division of Molecular and Cellular Biology, National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine, Denver, Colorado 80206.


Kinesin is a mechanoenzyme which uses energy liberated from ATP hydrolysis to transport particles towards the 'plus ends' of microtubules. The enzyme consists of two polypeptide heavy chains of relative molecular mass (Mr) approximately 110,000-140,000 (110K-140K) plus copurifying light chains; these polypeptides are arranged in a structure consisting of two globular heads attached to a fibrous stalk which terminates in a 'feathered' tail. Here we report that a function-disrupting monoclonal antikinesin, which binds to the 45K fragment of the kinesin heavy chain, recognizes an epitope located towards the N-terminal end of the heavy chain, and decorates the two globular heads lying at one end of the intact molecules (one antibody per head). The results show that the two heavy chains of native kinesin are arranged in parallel, and that the 45K fragments, which display nucleotide-sensitive interactions with microtubules, represent mechanochemical 'heads' located at the N-terminal regions of the heavy chains. Thus, it is likely that the kinesin heads are analogous to the subfragment-1 domains of myosin.

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