Microtubule-depolymerizing kinesins

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2013;29:417-41. doi: 10.1146/annurev-cellbio-101512-122345. Epub 2013 Jul 17.


The microtubule (MT) cytoskeleton supports a broad range of cellular functions, from providing tracks for intracellular transport, to supporting movement of cilia and flagella, to segregating chromosomes in mitosis. These functions are facilitated by the organizational and dynamic plasticity of MT networks. An important class of enzymes that alters MT dynamics is the depolymerizing kinesin-like proteins, which use their catalytic activities to regulate MT end dynamics. In this review, we discuss four topics surrounding these MT-depolymerizing kinesins. We provide a historical overview of studies focused on these motors and discuss their phylogeny. In the second half, we discuss their enzymology and biophysics and give an overview of their known cellular functions. This discussion highlights the fact that MT-depolymerizing kinesins exhibit a diverse range of design principles, which in turn increases their functional versatility in cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Kinesins / chemistry
  • Kinesins / metabolism*
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Molecular Motor Proteins / metabolism
  • Phylogeny
  • Spindle Apparatus / metabolism


  • Molecular Motor Proteins
  • Kinesins