Molecular genetics of kinesin light chains: generation of isoforms by alternative splicing. Academic Article uri icon


  • Movement of membrane-bounded organelles to intracellular destinations requires properly oriented microtubules and force-generating enzymes, such as the microtubule-stimulated ATPase kinesin. Kinesin is a heterotetramer with two heavy chain (approximately 124-kDa) and two light chain (approximately 64-kDa) subunits. Kinesin heavy chains contain both ATP- and microtubule-binding domains and are capable of force generation in vitro. Functions of the light chains are undetermined, although evidence suggests they interact with membrane surfaces. We have used molecular genetic approaches to dissect the kinesin light chain structure. Three distinct kinesin light chain cDNAs were cloned and sequenced from rat brain, and they were found to result from alternative splicing of a single gene. Polypeptides encoded by these cDNAs are identical except for their carboxyl ends. Synthesis of multiple light chains, differing from one another in primary structure, could provide a means of generating multiple, functionally specialized forms of the kinesin holoenzyme.

publication date

  • November 15, 1991