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Combined structural and microscopy approaches provide a model for how CAMSAP proteins recognize microtubule minus ends through their conserved CCK domains and protect microtubules from depolymerizing kinesin-13.
Neuronal trafficking has to meet the requirements of various intracellular compartments. In this Review, Nirschl, Ghiretti and Holzbaur examine how the transport machinery, including the cytoskeleton and molecular motors, is locally regulated to allow neuronal compartment-specific transport.
Kinesin-13s are microtubule depolymerizing enzymes. Here the authors present the crystal structure of a DARPin fused construct comprising the short neck region and motor domain of kinesin-13 in complex with an αβ-tubulin heterodimer, which shows that kinesin-13 functions by stabilizing a curved tubulin conformation.
Kinesins are molecular motors that travel along microtubules through a nucleotide-dependent stepping mechanism. Here the authors present the crystal structure of Zen4 (kinesin-6) in an apo state that sheds light on a key stepping intermediate of kinesin.
The kinesin-4 motor protein Kif7 regulates Hedgehog signalling at cilia in mammals by controlling the activity of Gli transcription factors. Kif7 is now found to inhibit microtubule growth to restrict and coordinate the length of axonemal microtubules at the ciliary tip. Such Kif7-mediated organization of the ciliary tip compartment regulates Gli activity and is proposed to be required for correct Hedgehog signalling.
Mitosis depends upon the action of the mitotic spindle, a subcellular machine that uses microtubules (MTs) and motors to assemble itself and to coordinate chromosome segregation. Recent work illuminates how the motor-driven poleward sliding of MTs — nucleated at centrosomes, chromosomes and on pre-existing MTs — contributes to spindle assembly and length control.
Genetically encoded and post-translationally generated variations of tubulin C-terminal tails give rise to extensive heterogeneity of the microtubule cytoskeleton. The generation of different tubulin variants in yeast now demonstrates how single amino-acid differences or post-translational modifications can modulate the behaviour of selected molecular motors.
Multiple activities cooperate to determine the architecture of the mitotic spindle. Kip3 is a kinesin-8 motor protein in budding yeast that acts as a microtubule depolymerase. Now Kip3 is shown to also crosslink and slide antiparallel microtubules, providing additional insights into how kinesin-8 motors control spindle integrity.