Finding Kinesin in the Squid Giant Axon

In the early 1980s, little was known about how cargo moved throughout the cell. In fact, the only known motor proteins at the time were myosin (actin) and dynein (microtubules). Ron Vale and colleagues originally wanted to look at myosin’s role in transporting cargo down the squid giant axon. They found that beads coated with myosin did not move in the squid axoplasm whereas the control beads without myosin did. This was a huge surprise! Once they found out the filaments in the squid axoplasm were actually microtubules and that they would move about when the axoplasm was placed on coverslips in the presence of ATP, they set about defining what this unknown motor protein was. Through affinity purification and column chromatography, they isolated the protein capable of motor activity and named it kinesin (from the Greek word kinein, meaning to move).
Background Readings:

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