ATPase kinetic characterization and single molecule behavior of mutant human kinesin motors defective in microtubule-based motility. Academic Article uri icon


  • Conventional kinesin is a microtubule-based motor protein that is an important model system for understanding mechanochemical transduction. To identify regions of the kinesin protein that participate in microtubule binding and force production, Woehlke et al. [(1997) Cell 90, 207-216] generated 35 alanine mutations in solvent-exposed residues. Here, we have performed presteady-state kinetic and single molecule motility analyses on three of these mutants [Y138A, loop 11 triple (L248A/D249A/E250A), and E311A] that exhibited a similar approximately 3-fold reduction in both microtubule gliding velocity and microtubule-stimulated ATPase activity. All mutants showed normal second-order ATP binding kinetics, indicating correct folding of the active site. The Y138A and loop 11 triple mutants were defective both in nucleotide hydrolysis and in microtubule-stimulated ADP release rates, the latter suggesting a defect in allosteric communication between the microtubule and the active site. A single molecule fluorescence assay further revealed that the loop 11 mutant is defective in initiating processive motion, suggesting that this loop is important for the initial contact between kinesin and the microtubule. Y138A, on the other hand, can bind to the microtubule normally but cannot move processively. For E311A, neither the rate of nucleotide hydrolysis nor ADP release could account for its slower ATPase and gliding velocity, which suggests that either phosphate release or a conformational transition is rate-limiting in this mutant. The single molecule assay showed that E311A has a reduced velocity of movement, but is not defective in processivity. Thus, while these mutants behave similarly in solution ATPase and multiple motor gliding assays, kinetic and single molecule analyses reveal defects in distinct processes in kinesin's mechanochemical cycle.

publication date

  • May 9, 2000