The mitotic kinesin-14 Ncd drives directional microtubule-microtubule sliding

Nat Cell Biol. 2009 Jun;11(6):717-23. doi: 10.1038/ncb1877. Epub 2009 May 10.


During mitosis and meiosis, the bipolar spindle facilitates chromosome segregation through microtubule sliding as well as microtubule growth and shrinkage. Kinesin-14, one of the motors involved, causes spindle collapse in the absence of kinesin-5 (Refs 2, 3), participates in spindle assembly and modulates spindle length. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying these activities are not known. Here, we report that Drosophila melanogaster kinesin-14 (Ncd) alone causes sliding of anti-parallel microtubules but locks together (that is, statically crosslinks) those that are parallel. Using single molecule imaging we show that Ncd diffuses along microtubules in a tail-dependent manner and switches its orientation between sliding microtubules. Our results show that kinesin-14 causes sliding and expansion of an anti-parallel microtubule array by dynamic interactions through the motor domain on the one side and the tail domain on the other. This mechanism accounts for the roles of kinesin-14 in spindle organization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / metabolism*
  • Kinesin
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Molecular Motor Proteins / genetics
  • Molecular Motor Proteins / metabolism
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Spindle Apparatus / metabolism*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Molecular Motor Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • ncd protein, Drosophila
  • Kinesin