Processive and nonprocessive models of kinesin movement

Annu Rev Physiol. 2003;65:161-75. doi: 10.1146/annurev.physiol.65.092101.142550. Epub 2002 May 1.


Conventional kinesin is the prototypic member of a family of diverse proteins that use the chemical energy of ATP hydrolysis to generate force and move along microtubules. These proteins, which are involved in a wide range of cellular functions, have been identified in protozoa, fungi, plants, and animals and possess a high degree of sequence conservation among species in their motor domains. The biochemical properties of kinesin and its homologues, in conjunction with the recently solved three-dimensional structures of several kinesin motors, have contributed to our understanding of the mechanism of kinesin movement along microtubules. We discuss several models for movement, including the hand-over-hand, inchworm, and biased diffusion models of processive movement, as well as models of nonprocessive movement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Kinesin / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Molecular Motor Proteins / physiology*


  • Molecular Motor Proteins
  • Kinesin