Kinetochore–microtubule attachment throughout mitosis potentiated by the elongated stalk of the kinetochore kinesin CENP-E
During the last 25 years, a vast amount of research has gone into understanding the mechanochemical cycle of kinesin-1 and similar processive motor proteins. An experimental method that has been widely used to this effect is the in vitro study of kinesin-1 molecules moving along microtubules while pulling a bead, the position of which is monitored optically while trapped in a laser focus. Analysing results from such experiments, in which thermally excited water molecules are violently buffeting the system components, can be quite difficult. At low loads, the effect of the mechanical properties of the entire molecule must be taken into account, as stalk compliance means the bead position recorded is only weakly coupled to the movement of the motor domains, the sites of ATP hydrolysis and microtubule binding. In the present review, findings on the mechanical and functional properties of the various domains of full-length kinesin-1 molecules are summarized and a computer model is presented that uses this information to simulate the motion of a bead carried by a kinesin molecule along a microtubule, with and without a weak optical trap present. A video sequence made from individual steps of the simulation gives a three-dimensional visual insight into these types of experiment at the molecular level.