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Neck linker docking is critical for Kinesin-1 force generation in cells but at a cost to motor speed and processivity


Budaitis B.G. , Jariwala S. , Reinemann D.N. , Schimert K.I. , Scarabelli G. , Grant B.J. , Sept D. , Lang M.J. , Verhey K.J. . eLife. 2019 ; 8(). e44146


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Kinesin force generation involves ATP-induced docking of the neck linker (NL) along the motor core. However, the roles of the proposed steps of NL docking, cover-neck bundle (CNB) and asparagine latch (N-latch) formation, during force generation are unclear. Furthermore, the necessity of NL docking for transport of membrane-bound cargo in cells has not been tested. We generated kinesin-1 motors impaired in CNB and/or N-latch formation based on molecular dynamics simulations. The mutant motors displayed reduced force output and inability to stall in optical trap assays but exhibited increased speeds, run lengths, and landing rates under unloaded conditions. NL docking thus enhances force production but at a cost to speed and processivity. In cells, teams of mutant motors were hindered in their ability to drive transport of Golgi elements (high-load cargo) but not peroxisomes (low-load cargo). These results demonstrate that the NL serves as a mechanical element for kinesin-1 transport under physiological conditions.