Understanding the Mechanism of Motility of the Heterodimeric Kinesin-14 KAR3VIK1
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The kinesin-14 Kar3 from Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Sc) is a C-terminal motor that forms a heterodimer with the kinesin-accessory protein Vik1. Although Vik1 possesses a typical kinesin motor domain (MD) fold, it lacks a nucleotide-binding site. However, it binds microtubules with affinities that can be regulated Kar3’s nucleotide state. This implies intermolecular communication between its subunits. This thesis aimed to understand this communication by studying the structures and functions of Kar3Vik1 orthologs. First, we biochemically characterized Kar3 from Ashbya gossypii (Ag) and determined the crystal structure of its MD. It was shown that the active site features of the AgKar3MD are similar to that of the ScKar3 R598A mutant, and that the β1 lobe at the edge of the MD was unique in structure and amino acid content. These results may provide a rationale for the unique enzymatic properties of this motor that could be relevant to its interaction with AgVik1 and function in Ashbya gossypii. We also determined the crystal structures of Kar3 and Vik1 orthologs from Candida glabrata (Cg). While the CgKar3MD structure was very similar to that of ScKar3MD, crystals of CgVik1 captured three novel conformations of the Vik1 motor homology domain (MHD). We observed that when the N-terminal neck helix docks against the MHD core in two unique positions, the C-terminus resembling neck mimics of kinesin-14 motors also docks against the neck-core junction. However, when the neck is non-helical and disengaged from the MHD, the C-terminus is undocked and disordered. To assess the functional importance of these N- and C-terminal segments of Vik1 MHD, we created CgKar3Vik1 constructs whose Vik1 subunit contained either a point mutation or complete truncation of the C-terminus (neck mimic), and analyzed their biophysical properties. All mutants showed defective ATPase activity and microtubule-gliding ability. Characterization of the mutations in CgVik1MHD by molecular dynamics simulations showed that residues Ile578 and Asn580 are not only involved in stabilizing interactions between the neck and neck mimic but they also influence and respond to conformational changes of the neck. These observations implicate the N- and C-termini of Vik1 as a key element of Kar3Vik1 function and communication.