Cytoplasmic dynein is an ATP-driven motor that transports intracellular cargos along microtubules. Dynein adopts an inactive conformation when not attached to a cargo, and motility is activated when dynein assembles with dynactin and a cargo adaptor. It was unclear how active dynein–dynactin complexes step along microtubules and transport cargos under tension. Using single-molecule imaging, we showed that dynein–dynactin advances by taking 8 to 32-nm steps toward the microtubule minus end with frequent sideways and backward steps. Multiple dyneins collectively bear a large amount of tension because the backward stepping rate of dynein is insensitive to load. Recruitment of two dyneins to dynactin increases the force generation and the likelihood of winning against kinesin in a tug-of-war but does not directly affect velocity. Instead, velocity is determined by cargo adaptors and tail–tail interactions between two closely packed dyneins. Our results show that cargo adaptors modulate dynein motility and force generation for a wide range of cellular functions.
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We are grateful to the members of the Yildiz laboratory for helpful discussions, A. P. Carter, L. Urnavicius, and S. Lacey (MRC, Cambridge) for providing plasmids and helping with protein expression and purification, and D. Drubin and C. Kaplan for multicolor TIRF microscopy. This work was funded by grants from the NIH (GM094522), and NSF (MCB-1055017, MCB-1617028) to A.Y., a grant from the NIH (GM098859) to S.C.B. and NIH F31 fellowship to L.F.
S.C.B. holds an equity interest in Lumidyne Technologies. All other authors declare no competing interests.
Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Supplementary Tables 1–3 and Supplementary Figures 1–8
Processive motility of single DDB and DDR complexes along MTs in 1 mM ATP.
Helical movement of DDB- and DDR-driven beads along an MT bridge.
Linking of two DDBs via DNA hybridization.
Motility of DDB–kinesin and DDR–kinesin colocalizers.
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Elshenawy, M.M., Canty, J.T., Oster, L. et al. Cargo adaptors regulate stepping and force generation of mammalian dynein–dynactin. Nat Chem Biol 15, 1093–1101 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41589-019-0352-0
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