Molecular origin of the weak susceptibility of kinesin velocity to loads and its relation to the collective behavior of kinesins
Motor proteins are active enzymatic molecules that support important cellular processes by transforming chemical energy into mechanical work. Although the structures and chemomechanical cycles of motor proteins have been extensively investigated, the sensitivity of a motor’s velocity in response to a force is not well-understood. For kinesin, velocity is weakly influenced by a small to midrange external force (weak susceptibility) but is steeply reduced by a large force. Here, we utilize a structure-based molecular dynamic simulation to study the molecular origin of the weak susceptibility for a single kinesin. We show that the key step in controlling the velocity of a single kinesin under an external force is the ATP release from the microtubule-bound head. Only under large loading forces can the motor head release ATP at a fast rate, which significantly reduces the velocity of kinesin. It underpins the weak susceptibility that the velocity will not change at small to midrange forces. The molecular origin of this velocity reduction is that the neck linker of a kinesin only detaches from the motor head when pulled by a large force. This prompts the ATP binding site to adopt an open state, favoring ATP release and reducing the velocity. Furthermore, we show that two load-bearing kinesins are incapable of equally sharing the load unless they are very close to each other. As a consequence of the weak susceptibility, the trailing kinesin faces the challenge of catching up to the leading one, which accounts for experimentally observed weak cooperativity of kinesins motors.
collective behavior; kinesin; molecular mechanism; susceptibility