Role of the kinesin neck linker and catalytic core in microtubule-based motility

Ryan B. Case, Sarah Rice, Cynthia L. Hart, Bernice Ly, Ronald D. Vale*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


Kinesin motor proteins execute a variety of intracellular microtubule-based transport functions. Kinesin motor domains contain a catalytic core, which is conserved throughout the kinesin superfamily, followed by a neck region, which is conserved within subfamilies and has been implicated in controlling the direction of motion along a microtubule. Here, we have used mutational analysis to determine the functions of the catalytic core and the ~15 amino acid 'neck linker' (a sequence contained within the neck region) of human conventional kinesin. Replacement of the neck linker with a designed random coil resulted in a 200-500-fold decrease in microtubule velocity, although basal and microtubule-stimulated ATPase rates were within threefold of wild-type levels. The catalytic core of kinesin, without any additional kinesin sequence, displayed microtubule-stimulated ATPase activity, nucleotide-dependent microtubule binding, and very slow plus-end-directed motor activity. On the basis of these results, we propose that the catalytic core is sufficient for allosteric regulation of microtubule binding and ATPase activity and that the kinesin neck linker functions as a mechanical amplifier for motion. Given that the neck linker undergoes a nucleotide-dependent conformational change [4], this region might act in an analogous fashion to the myosin converter, which amplifies small conformational changes in the myosin catalytic core.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-160
Number of pages4
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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