Kinesin-8-specific loop-2 controls the dual activities of the motor domain according to tubulin protofilament shape

Nat Commun. 2022 Jul 20;13(1):4198. doi: 10.1038/s41467-022-31794-3.


Kinesin-8s are dual-activity motor proteins that can move processively on microtubules and depolymerize microtubule plus-ends, but their mechanism of combining these distinct activities remains unclear. We addressed this by obtaining cryo-EM structures (2.6-3.9 Å) of Candida albicans Kip3 in different catalytic states on the microtubule lattice and on a curved microtubule end mimic. We also determined a crystal structure of microtubule-unbound CaKip3-ADP (2.0 Å) and analyzed the biochemical activity of CaKip3 and kinesin-1 mutants. These data reveal that the microtubule depolymerization activity of kinesin-8 originates from conformational changes of its motor core that are amplified by dynamic contacts between its extended loop-2 and tubulin. On curved microtubule ends, loop-1 inserts into preceding motor domains, forming head-to-tail arrays of kinesin-8s that complement loop-2 contacts with curved tubulin and assist depolymerization. On straight tubulin protofilaments in the microtubule lattice, loop-2-tubulin contacts inhibit conformational changes in the motor core, but in the ADP-Pi state these contacts are relaxed, allowing neck-linker docking for motility. We propose that these tubulin shape-induced alternations between pro-microtubule-depolymerization and pro-motility kinesin states, regulated by loop-2, are the key to the dual activity of kinesin-8 motors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Diphosphate / metabolism
  • Kinesins*
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Tubulin* / metabolism


  • Tubulin
  • Adenosine Diphosphate
  • Kinesins