Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Cell Biology


Cell Biology

First Thesis Advisor

Dr. Richard B. Vallee


Dynein ATPase, Cytoplasm


Cytoplasmic dynein is a multisubunit complex involved in retrograde transport of cellular components along microtubules. The heavy chains (HC) are very large catalytic subunits which possess microtubule binding ability. The intermediate chains (IC) are responsible for targeting dynein to its appropriate cargo by interacting with the dynactin complex. The light intermediate chains (LIC) are previously unexplored subunits that have been proposed to modulate dynein activity by regulating the motor or the IC-dynactin interaction. The light chains (LC) are a newly identified class of subunit which are also thought to have regulatory functions.

In the first part of this work, I analyzed the relationship between the four SDS-PAGE gel bands that comprise the light intermediate chains. 1- and 2-D electrophoresis before and after alkaline phosphatase treatment revealed that the four bands are derived from two different polypeptides, each of which is phosphorylated. Peptide microsequencing of these subunits yielded sequences that indicated similarity between them. cDNA cloning of the rat LICs revealed the presence of a conserved P-loop sequence and a very high degree of homology between the two different rat LICs and among LICs from different species.

The second series of experiments was designed to analyze the association of pericentrin with cytoplasmic dynein. First, various dynein and dynactin subunits were co-associate with pericentrin in these experiments. Co-precipitation from 35S labeled cell extracts revealed a direct interaction between LIC and pericentrin. Comparison of pericentrin binding by LICl and LIC2 showed that only LICl was able to bind. Further investigation of the relationship between LICl and LIC2 demonstrated that each LIC will self-associate, but they will not form heterooligomers. Additionally, using co-overexpression and immunoprecipitation of LICl, LIC2, and HC, I have shown that binding of the two LICs to HC is mutually exclusive.

Finally, I investigated the relationships between dynein HC, IC, and LIC by examining the interactions among the subunits. IC and LIC were both found to bind to the HC, but not to each other. Despite the lack of interaction between IC and LIC, they are, in fact, present in the same dynein complexes and they have partially overlapping binding sites within the N-terminal sequence of the HC. The HC dimerization site was determined to extend through a large portion of the N-terminus, and it includes both the IC and LIC binding sites, although these subunits are not required for dimerization.

Together these studies implicate the light intermediate chains in dynein targeting. Targeting of dynein to its cargo has been thought to be performed by the dynactin complex, and for one particular cargo, the kinetochore, there is considerable evidence to support this model. The results presented here suggest that the light intermediate chains appear to function in a separate, non-dynactin-based targeting mechanism.


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