Steven Rosenfeld, M.D., Ph.D.
Title: “How to Tune a Molecular Motor”
Members of the kinesin superfamily serve a wide variety of functions, and a dominant narrative for these molecular motors has been that each member of the superfamily is uniquely specialized to serve a very limited set of functions. However, it is now appreciated that many members of this group serve several distinct physiological roles, and it has been unclear how these kinesins accomplish this functional flexibility. This talk will discuss a novel approach to identify how differences in mechanical function between different kinesins are due to specific changes in conformational coupling between key structural domains. It will then describe a post-translational modification of the kinesin 5 family member Eg5 that dramatically alters this coupling to make it function much more efficiently under load and in ensembles. This work provides the biophysical context required to mechanistically understand the effects of modified Eg5 in dividing cells.