The Saccharomyces cerevisiae kinesin-5 Cin8 performs essential mitotic functions in spindle assembly and anaphase B spindle elongation. Recent work has shown that Cin8 is a bi-directional motor which moves towards the minus-end of microtubules (MTs) under high ionic strength (IS) conditions and changes directionality in low IS conditions and when bound between anti-parallel microtubules. Previous work from our laboratory has also indicated that Cin8 is differentially phosphorylated during late anaphase at cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (Cdk1)-specific sites located in its motor domain. In vivo, such phosphorylation causes Cin8 detachment from spindles and reduces the spindle elongation rate, while maintaining proper spindle morphology. To study the effect of phosphorylation on Cin8 motor function, we examined in vitro motile properties of wild type Cin8, as well as its phosphorylation using phospho-deficient and phospho-mimic variants, in a single molecule fluorescence motility assay. Analysis was performed on whole cell extracts and on purified Cin8 samples. We found that addition of negative charges in the phospho-mimic mutant weakened the MT-motor interaction, increased motor velocity and promoted minus-end-directed motility. These results indicate that phosphorylation in the catalytic domain of Cin8 regulates its motor function.
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