Doublecortin (Dcx) defines a growing family of microtubule (MT)-associated proteins (MAPs) involved in neuronal migration and process outgrowth. We show that Dcx is essential for the function of Kif1a, a kinesin-3 motor protein that traffics synaptic vesicles. Neurons lacking Dcx and/or its structurally conserved paralogue, doublecortin-like kinase 1 (Dclk1), show impaired Kif1a-mediated transport of Vamp2, a cargo of Kif1a, with decreased run length. Human disease-associated mutations in Dcx's linker sequence (e.g., W146C, K174E) alter Kif1a/Vamp2 transport by disrupting Dcx/Kif1a interactions without affecting Dcx MT binding. Dcx specifically enhances binding of the ADP-bound Kif1a motor domain to MTs. Cryo-electron microscopy and subnanometer-resolution image reconstruction reveal the kinesin-dependent conformational variability of MT-bound Dcx and suggest a model for MAP-motor crosstalk on MTs. Alteration of kinesin run length by MAPs represents a previously undiscovered mode of control of kinesin transport and provides a mechanism for regulation of MT-based transport by local signals.
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