A kinetic dissection of the fast and superprocessive kinesin-3 KIF1A reveals a predominant one-head-bound state during its chemomechanical cycle

J Biol Chem. 2020 Dec 25;295(52):17889-17903. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA120.014961. Epub 2020 Oct 20.


The kinesin-3 family contains the fastest and most processive motors of the three neuronal transport kinesin families, yet the sequence of states and rates of kinetic transitions that comprise the chemomechanical cycle and give rise to their unique properties are poorly understood. We used stopped-flow fluorescence spectroscopy and single-molecule motility assays to delineate the chemomechanical cycle of the kinesin-3, KIF1A. Our bacterially expressed KIF1A construct, dimerized via a kinesin-1 coiled-coil, exhibits fast velocity and superprocessivity behavior similar to WT KIF1A. We established that the KIF1A forward step is triggered by hydrolysis of ATP and not by ATP binding, meaning that KIF1A follows the same chemomechanical cycle as established for kinesin-1 and -2. The ATP-triggered half-site release rate of KIF1A was similar to the stepping rate, indicating that during stepping, rear-head detachment is an order of magnitude faster than in kinesin-1 and kinesin-2. Thus, KIF1A spends the majority of its hydrolysis cycle in a one-head-bound state. Both the ADP off-rate and the ATP on-rate at physiological ATP concentration were fast, eliminating these steps as possible rate-limiting transitions. Based on the measured run length and the relatively slow off-rate in ADP, we conclude that attachment of the tethered head is the rate-limiting transition in the KIF1A stepping cycle. Thus, KIF1A's activity can be explained by a fast rear-head detachment rate, a rate-limiting step of tethered-head attachment that follows ATP hydrolysis, and a relatively strong electrostatic interaction with the microtubule in the weakly bound post-hydrolysis state.

Keywords: ATPase; KIF1A; Michaelis-Menten; axon; intracellular trafficking; kinesin; kinetics; microtubule; molecular motor; single-molecule biophysics; single-molecule tracking; transport.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Kinesins / chemistry*
  • Kinesins / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Protein Domains
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Rats


  • Kif1a protein, rat
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Kinesins