Distinct Kinesin-14 mitotic mechanisms in spindle bipolarity

Cell Cycle. 2009 Nov 1;8(21):3571-83. doi: 10.4161/cc.8.21.9970. Epub 2009 Dec 1.


Kinesin-like proteins are integral to formation and function of a conserved mitotic spindle apparatus that directs chromosome segregation and precedes cell division. Ubiquitous to the mechanism of spindle assembly and stability are balanced Kinesin-5 promoting and Kinesin-14 opposing forces. Distinct Kinesin-14 roles in bipolarity in eukaryotes have not been shown, but are suggested by gamma-tubulin-based pole interactions that affect establishment and by microtubule cross-linking and sliding that maintain bipolarity and spindle length. Distinct roles also imply specialized functional domains. By cross-species analysis of compatible mechanisms in establishing mitotic bipolarity we demonstrate that Kinesin-14 human HSET (HsHSET) functionally replaces Schizosaccharomyces pombe Pkl1 and its action is similarly blocked by mutation in a Kinesin-14 binding site on gamma-tubulin. Drosophila DmNcd localizes preferentially to bundled interpolar microtubules in fission yeast and does not replace SpPkl1. Analysis of twenty-six Kinesin-14 derivatives, including Tail, Stalk or Neck-Motor chimeras, for spindle localization, spindle assembly and mitotic progression defined critical domains. The Tail of SpPkl1 contains functional elements enabling its role in spindle assembly that are distinct from but transferable to DmNcd, whereas HsHSET function utilizes both Tail and Stalk features. Our analysis is the first to demonstrate distinct mechanisms between SpPkl1 and DmNcd, and reveal that HsHSET shares functional overlap in spindle pole mechanisms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Drosophila / metabolism
  • Drosophila Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Humans
  • Kinesin / genetics
  • Kinesin / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary / physiology
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Schizosaccharomyces / metabolism
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins / genetics
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins / metabolism*
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Spindle Apparatus / metabolism*
  • Tubulin / metabolism*


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • PKL1 protein, S pombe
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins
  • Tubulin
  • human spleen, embryo, and testes expressed protein, human
  • ncd protein, Drosophila
  • Kinesin