Reconstitution of membrane transport powered by a novel dimeric kinesin motor of the Unc104/KIF1A family purified from Dictyostelium. Academic Article uri icon


  • Motor-powered movement along microtubule tracks is important for membrane organization and trafficking. However, the molecular basis for membrane transport is poorly understood, in part because of the difficulty in reconstituting this process from purified components. Using video microscopic observation of organelle transport in vitro as an assay, we have purified two polypeptides (245 and 170 kD) from Dictyostelium extracts that independently reconstitute plus-end-directed membrane movement at in vivo velocities. Both polypeptides were found to be kinesin motors, and the 245-kD protein (DdUnc104) is a close relative of Caenorhabditis elegans Unc104 and mouse KIF1A, neuron-specific motors that deliver synaptic vesicle precursors to nerve terminals. A knockout of the DdUnc104 gene produces a pronounced defect in organelle transport in vivo and in the reconstituted assay. Interestingly, DdUnc104 functions as a dimeric motor, in contrast to other members of this kinesin subfamily, which are monomeric.

publication date

  • November 1, 1999