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The kinesin–tubulin complex: considerations in structural and functional complexity

Authors Olmsted Z, Colliver A, Paluh J

Received 2 October 2014

Accepted for publication 2 December 2014

Published 26 February 2015 Volume 2015:7 Pages 83—97


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Denis Wirtz

Video abstract presented by Janet L Paluh

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Zachary T Olmsted, Andrew G Colliver, Janet L Paluh

State University of New York Polytechnic Institute, Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, College of Nanoscale Science, Nanobioscience Constellation, Albany, NY, USA

Abstract: The ability of cells to respond to external cues by appropriately manipulating their internal environment requires a dynamic microtubule cytoskeleton that is facilitated by associated kinesin motor interactions. The evolutionary adaptations of kinesins and tubulins when merged generate a highly adaptable communication and infrastructure cellular network that is important to understanding specialized cell functions, human disease, and disease therapies. Here, we review the state of the field in the complex relationship of kinesin–tubulin interactions. We propose 12 mechanistic specializations of kinesins. In one category, referred to as sortability, we describe how kinesin interactions with tubulin isoforms, isotypes, or posttranslationally modified tubulins contribute to diverse cellular roles. Fourteen kinesin families have previously been described. Here, we illustrate the great depth of functional complexity that is possible in members within a single kinesin family by mechanistic specialization through discussion of the well-studied Kinesin-14 family. This includes new roles of Kinesin-14 in regulating supramolecular structures such as the microtubule-organizing center γ-tubulin ring complex of centrosomes. We next explore the value of an improved mechanistic understanding of kinesin–tubulin interactions in regard to human development, disease mechanisms, and improving treatments that target kinesin–tubulin complexes. The ability to combine the current kinesin nomenclature along with a more precisely defined kinesin and tubulin molecular toolbox is needed to support more detailed exploration of kinesin–tubulin interaction mechanisms including functional uniqueness, redundancy, or adaptations to new roles upon cell specialization, and to thereby accelerate applications in human health.

Keywords: microtubule, cellular network, cell functions, sortability, transport, disease, signaling

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