A Brownian Ratchet Model Explains the Biased Sidestepping of Single-Headed Kinesin-3 KIF1A

Aniruddha Mitra, Marc Suñé, Stefan Diez, José M. Sancho, David Oriola, Jaume Casademunt

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The kinesin-3 motor KIF1A is involved in long-ranged axonal transport in neurons. To ensure vesicular delivery, motors need to navigate the microtubule lattice and overcome possible roadblocks along the way. The single-headed form of KIF1A is a highly diffusive motor that has been shown to be a prototype of a Brownian motor by virtue of a weakly bound diffusive state to the microtubule. Recently, groups of single-headed KIF1A motors were found to be able to sidestep along the microtubule lattice, creating left-handed helical membrane tubes when pulling on giant unilamellar vesicles in vitro. A possible hypothesis is that the diffusive state enables the motor to explore the microtubule lattice and switch protofilaments, leading to a left-handed helical motion. Here, we study the longitudinal rotation of microtubules driven by single-headed KIF1A motors using fluorescence-interference contrast microscopy. We find an average rotational pitch of ≃1.5 μm, which is remarkably robust to changes in the gliding velocity, ATP concentration, microtubule length, and motor density. Our experimental results are compared to stochastic simulations of Brownian motors moving on a two-dimensional continuum ratchet potential, which quantitatively agree with the fluorescence-interference contrast experiments. We find that single-headed KIF1A sidestepping can be explained as a consequence of the intrinsic handedness and polarity of the microtubule lattice in combination with the diffusive mechanochemical cycle of the motor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2266-2274
Number of pages9
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes

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