Molecular biology of the cell

Kinesin-5, a mitotic microtubule-associated motor protein, modulates neuronal migration.

PMID 21411631


Kinesin-5 (also called Eg5 or kif11) is a homotetrameric motor protein that functions by modulating microtubule (MT)-MT interactions. In the case of mitosis, kinesin-5 slows the rate of separation of the half-spindles. In the case of the axon, kinesin-5 limits the frequency of transport of short MTs, and also limits the rate of axonal growth. Here we show that experimental inhibition of kinesin-5 in cultured migratory neurons results in a faster but more randomly moving neuron with a shorter leading process. As is the case with axons of stationary neurons, short MT transport frequency is notably enhanced in the leading process of the migratory neuron when kinesin-5 is inhibited. Conversely, overexpression of kinesin-5, both in culture and in developing cerebral cortex, causes migration to slow and even cease. Regions of anti-parallel MT organization behind the centrosome were shown to be especially rich in kinesin-5, implicating these regions as potential sites where kinesin-5 forces may be especially relevant. We posit that kinesin-5 acts as a "brake" on MT-MT interactions that modulates the advance of the entire MT apparatus. In so doing, kinesin-5 regulates the rate and directionality of neuronal migration and possibly the cessation of migration when the neuron reaches its destination.