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Mechanical Counterbalance of Kinesin and Dynein Motors in a Microtubular Network Regulates Cell Mechanics, 3D Architecture, and Mechanosensing


Zhovmer ASAlexander S , Manning AAlexis , Smith CChynna , Hayes JBJames B , Burnette DTDylan T , Wang JJian , Cartagena-Rivera AXAlexander X , Dokholyan NVNikolay V , Singh RKRakesh K , Tabdanov EDErdem D . ACS nano. 2021 10 22; ().


Microtubules (MTs) and MT motor proteins form active 3D networks made of unstretchable cables with rod-like bending mechanics that provide cells with a dynamically changing structural scaffold. In this study, we report an antagonistic mechanical balance within the dynein-kinesin microtubular motor system. Dynein activity drives the microtubular network inward compaction, while isolated activity of kinesins bundles and expands MTs into giant circular bands that deform the cell cortex into discoids. Furthermore, we show that dyneins recruit MTs to sites of cell adhesion, increasing the topographic contact guidance of cells, while kinesins antagonize it via retraction of MTs from sites of cell adhesion. Actin-to-microtubule translocation of septin-9 enhances kinesin-MT interactions, outbalances the activity of kinesins over that of dyneins, and induces the discoid architecture of cells. These orthogonal mechanisms of MT network reorganization highlight the existence of an intricate mechanical balance between motor activities of kinesins and dyneins that controls cell 3D architecture, mechanics, and cell-microenvironment interactions.