The precise regulation of microtubule dynamics is essential during cell division. The kinesin-13 motor protein MCAK is a potent microtubule depolymerase. The divergent non-motor regions flanking the ATPase domain are critical in regulating its targeting and activity. However, the molecular basis for the function of the non-motor regions within the context of full-length MCAK is unknown. Here we determine the structure of MCAK motor domain bound to its regulatory C-terminus. Our analysis reveals that the MCAK C-terminus binds to two motor domains in solution and is displaced allosterically upon microtubule binding, which allows its robust accumulation at microtubule ends. These results demonstrate that MCAK undergoes long-range conformational changes involving its C-terminus during the soluble to microtubule- bound transition and that the C-terminus-motor interaction represents a structural intermediate in the MCAK catalytic cycle. Together, our work reveals intrinsic molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of kinesin-13 activity.
- microtubule depolymerase
- X-ray structure