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Cell Motility and the Cytoskeleton 34:299-312 (1996)
Comparison of the lntracellular Distribution
of Cytoplasmic Dynein and Kinesin in
Cultured Cells: Motor Protein Location Does
Not Reliably Predict Function
Sharron X.H. Lin, K. Kevin Pfister, and Christine A. Collins
Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Northwestern University Medical
School, Chicago, Illinois (S.X.H.L., C.A.C.); Department of Cell Biology, School
of Medicine, University of Virginia Health Science Center, Charlottesville,
Virginia (K.K.F.)
While immunolocalization methods have been used as a reasonable means to
judge where a given molecule may be active in the cellular milieu, the correlation
between distribution and function for proteins involved in intracellular transport
may not be clear cut. To address the question of specificity and reproducibility of
immunolocalization of microtubule-based motor proteins, we have co-localized
cytoplasmic dynein and kinesin by immunofluorescence microscopy using two
specific antibodies for each motor molecule. The results indicate that cytoplasmic
dynein and kinesin appear to co-localize on a small subset of vesicles, but largely
reside or accumulate on morphologically distinct organelles. In addition, antikinesin antibodies differing in their epitope specificity label different cellular
compartments. To address the question of whether the distribution of motor molecules is representative of organelles that are undergoing active transport, we have
altered the activity of vesicle trafficking pathways in fibroblasts using several
different methods, including cytoplasmic acidification and disruption of cellular
compartments with brefeldin A, nocodazole and okadaic acid. Analysis of the
distribution of cytoplasmic dynein and kinesin under these conditions indicates
that immunolocalization data alone are not reliable indicators of sites of likely
function for these microtubule-based motors. 0 1996 wiiey-Liss, 1nc.
Key words: organelle transport, microtubule-based motility, okadaic acid, immunolocalization, Golgi
Cytoplasmic dynein and kinesin are considered the
most likely candidates for mediating retrograde and an-
terograde ATP- and microtubule-dependent organelle
translocations. In developing a model for how cytoplasmic dynein and kinesin carry out regulated, polarized
motility, it is important to determine whether one or both
motors interact with an individual organelle at a given
time, and how the intracellular distributions of these proteins are established and modulated. Existing immunolocalization data support the hypothesis that the motor
molecule resides on the vesicle to be translocated, as
much of the cellular content of dynein and kinesin ap0 1996 Wiley-Liss, lnc.
pears to be associated with membranous organelles.
However, there is also evidence for a soluble pool of
cytoplasmic dynein and kinesin. Whether this cytoplasmic pool reflects a discrete population of motor protein
with altered activities is not known. However, increases
Received January 17, 1996; accepted April 19, 1996.
Address reprint requests to Christine A. Collins, Department of Cell
and Molecular Biology, Northwestern University Medical School,
303 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 6061 1-3008.
Dr. Lin’s current address is Department of Molecular and Cell Biology
University of California, Berkeley Life Science Addition Bldg 57 1
Berkeley, CA 94720
Lin et al.
in the soluble pool of cytoplasmic dynein following certain treatments suggest that the cell has means of altering
the equilibrium between membrane bound and “free”
motor protein [Lin et al. , 19941.
From the literature, the relationship between intracellular localization of motor proteins and their predicted
sites of activity in organelle transport is difficult to evaluate. Cytoplasmic dynein has been shown by immunofluorescence microscopy to be associated with membranous organelles in several cell types [Hirokawa et al.,
1990; Koonce and McIntosh, 1990; Pfarr et al., 19901,
and in particular to be associated with lysosomes in fibroblasts [Lin and Collins, 1992, 19931. Assays of organelle motility and fusion in permeabilized cells or in
vitro reconstitution systems predict dynein involvement
in transport between early and late endosomes [Bomsel
et al., 1990; Aniento et al., 1993; Oda et al., 19951,
apical transport in polarized epithelial cells [Lafont et
a1., 19941, and perinuclear Golgi vesicle accumulation
[Corthesy-Theulaz et al., 19921. However, immunolocalization studies and biochemical fractionation experiments do not indicate specific enrichment of cytoplasmic
dynein on organelles involved in these transport processes.
The analysis of kinesin distribution is even more
complicated, as several distinctly different localization
patterns have been described. Pfister and colleagues, using a library of monoclonal antibodies to the kinesin
heavy and light chains, demonstrated that kinesin is associated with membranous organelles [Pfister et al.,
1989; Hirokawa et al., 1991; Leopold et al., 19921. Recent work used one of these heavy chain antibodies to
localize kinesin to a pre-Golgi vesicle compartment in
fibroblasts [Lippincott-Schwartz et al., 19951. Using a
monoclonal antibody to sea urchin kinesin, Henson et al.
[ 19921 found this motor protein regionally codistributed
with an ER marker in sea urchin coelomocytes, and
Houliston and Elinson [1991] found an association with
cortical vesicles in Xenopus eggs. Using the same antisea urchin kinesin antibody, Golgi staining has been observed in a variety of cultured cells [Murphy et al., 1991;
Johnson et al., 1993; Marks et al., 19941. Polyclonal
antibodies recognizing conserved peptide sequences in
kinesin heavy chain stained Golgi in rat hepatocytes, and
kinesin was enriched in Golgi membranes and transcytotic and secretory vesicles from liver cells [Marks et al.,
19941. However, other investigators have failed to detect
kinesin in Golgi following biochemical fractionation
[Leopold et al., 1992; Schmitz et al., 1994; Fath et al. ,
Functional assays implicate kinesin in anterograde
axonal transport [Brady et al., 1990; Saxton et al., 1991;
Ferreira et al., 19921, in microtubule-dependent transport of ER membranes [Dabora and Sheetz, 1988, Vale
and Hotani, 1988; Feiguin et al., 19941, secretory vesicles [Urmtia et al., 1991; Burkhardt et al., 19931, and
pigment granules [Rodionov et al., 19911, and in extension of tubular lysosomes [Hollenbeck and Swanson,
19901 and Golgi to ER vesicular transport [LippincottSchwartz et al., 19951. Though the localization of kinesin on ER- or Golgi-related structures could be considered consistent with a role for lunesin in secretion and
maintenance of ER distribution in the cell, the differences observed in immunof luorescence and biochemical
localization among various investigators is puzzling. A
possible explanation for disparate localization results is
that various intracellular distributions reported for kinesin, and for dynein, reflect differences between cell
types, in antibody specificity or affinity, or other factors
due to differences in methodology among various investigators. It is also possible that different localizations
reflect the recognition of distinct populations, e.g. splicing variants, proteins with altered subunit composition,
post-translational modifications of the same protein, or
motor proteins in different states due to their association
with activating complexes or receptors.
To directly compare the intracellular distributions
of cytoplasmic dynein and kinesin, we determined the
localization of these microtubule-based motors in the
same cell type under identical conditions. Four specific
antibody probes, two which react with cytoplasmic dynein and two distinct antibodies to kinesin, were used.
The results for dynein localization were consistent with
those previously described [Lin and Collins, 19921, and
the kinesin distribution was found to be dependent on the
epitope specificity of the particular antibody used. To
assess the relationship between localization and function,
we investigated whether the distributions of kinesin and
dynein are altered by conditions that disrupt the normal
pathways of vesicle trafficking thought to be dependent
on microtubule motors. These conditions included using
nocodazole, brefeldin A, and okadaic acid treatment,
and intracellular acidification. The results from these
studies indicate that the intracellular localizations of both
kinesin and dynein are modulated by the cell. However,
the highest concentration or accumulation of motor protein detected by immunolocalization does not necessarily
correlate with regions of presumed motor activity.
Cell Culture and
lmmunofluorescence Microscopy
BHK-21, NIH-3T3, and NRK fibroblasts were
each cultured in DME with 10% calf serum and antibiotics (100 i.u./ml penicillin and 100 mg/ml streptomycin). Hippocampal cells were isolated from 1-day-old rat
pups and were cultured in DMEM [Goslin and Banker,
Dynein and Kinesin Localization
19911. Cells were fixed and permeabilized by immersion
of coverslips into methanol at -20°C for 5 min. The
fixed cells were incubated with primary antibodies for 1
h in a humidified chamber at 37°C. Following washes in
PBS (50 mM NaPO,, pH 7.4, 150 mM NaCl), goat
anti-rabbit or anti-mouse secondary antibodies conjugated to rhodamine or fluorescein (Jackson Immunoresearch Laboratories, West Grove, PA) were diluted to 45
pg/ml in PBS and incubated with the coverslips for 15
min as above. The coverslips were washed, mounted,
viewed, and photographed as previously described [Lin
and Collins. 19931.
Antibodies to cytoplasmic dynein were a rabbit
polyclonal serum raised against native calf brain dynein
that reacts primarily with the 74 kDa intermediate chain
and weakly with the dynein heavy chain on Western
blots [Lin and Collins, 19931 and a mouse monoclonal
antibody that reacts with all isoelectric point variants of
the 74 kDa intermediate chain of rat brain dynein [Dillman and Pfister, 19941. Two monoclonal antibodies that
recognize different epitopes of the kinesin heavy chain
were previously characterized by Pfister et al. [1989]. In
bovine brain extracts, kinesin monoclonal antibody H 1
recognizes a single polypeptide species of 124 kDa,
whereas antibody H2 recognizes, in addition, a second
species migrating with slightly slower mobility resolved
in some gel electrophoresis systems.
Cell Treatment Conditions
Microtubule disruption was carried out by treating
cells with 10 pM taxol or 10 pM vinblastine for 16 h or
incubation with 10 p M nocodazole for 2 h. Effects of
these drugs on the microtubule cytoskeleton were verified by double-labeling with tubulin antibody (monoclonal anti-a tubulin, Amersham Corp., Arlington
Heights, IL) or single-labeling for tubulin in cells on
separate coverslips treated under identical conditions for
comparison with kinesin distributions. Cells were acidified by incubation with 70 mM sodium acetate, pH 6.5
for 45 min [Heuser, 1989al as previously described [Lin
and Collins, 19921. Brefeldin A was used at 10 pg/ml for
15 min. Okadaic acid (1.5 pM) was added to cells in
complete culture medium for 45 min. For ATP depletion
experiments. 5 mM NaN, was added to glucose-deficient
DME in the presence or absence of dialyzed serum.
was Obtained from the Drug Synthesis and
Chemistry Branch, Division of Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, and stored as a 10 mM stock in
DMSO at -80°C. Vinblastine, nocodazole, and brefeldin A were stored in DMSO at -40°C (10 mM, 6.6 mM,
and 5 mg/ml stock solutions, respectively), and okadaic
acid (500 pM in DMSO) was stored at 4°C.
Dynein and Kinesin Localize to Discrete
Organelle Populations
Studies using a polyclonal antibody raised against
native cytoplasmic dynein have demonstrated that this
microtubule motor protein localizes to lysosomes clustered in the perinuclear region of fibroblastic cells [Lin
and Collins, 1992, 19931. Using a monoclonal antibody
specific for the 74 kDa intermediate chain subunit(s) of
cytoplasmic dynein [Dillman and Pfister, 19941, essentially complete overlap with the polyclonal anti-dynein
antibody staining pattern was observed in NRK fibroblasts (Fig. 1). As the monoclonal antibody recognizes
all isoelectric point variants of the intermediate chain
subunit [Dillman and Pfister, 19941, this result suggests
that staining pattern observed with either antibody is representative of the total population of dynein molecules.
Since the anti-kinesin antibodies HI and H2 appear
to recognize different epitopes on kinesin heavy chain
[Pfister et al., 19891, we wanted to determine whether
different populations of organelles are recognized by the
two antibodies within the same cell. In Figure 2 we compared staining of BHK and NRK fibroblasts using antikinesin antibodies HI and H2. Results using antibody H1
(Fig. 2A,C) were similar to the intracellular staining patterns found previously using this antibody in other cell
types [Pfister et al., 19891, and consistent with staining
of a pre-Golgi compartment [Lippincott-Schwartz et al.,
19951. However, antibody H2 appeared to recognize a
different kinesin population than that identified using antibody H1 in both cell types, and the staining pattern for
antibody H2 itself differed in the two fibroblast cell lines.
In Figure 2B, the staining pattern using the kinesin antibody H2 in BHK cells was largely diffuse throughout the
cytoplasm. In Figure 2D, the staining pattern using kinesin antibody H2 in NRK fibroblasts was distinctly tubulovesicular and concentrated near the nucleus, similar
to Golgi localizations for kinesin reported by other investigators [Murphy et al., 1991; Johnson et al., 1993;
Marks et al.. 19941, and coincident with the staining
pattern obtained in this cell type using wheat germ agglutinin, a marker used to label Golgi structures (data not
shown). We identified kinesin on Western blots of BHK
and NRK whole cell extracts, and determined that a protein species of identical molecular weight was recognized
by both antibodies H1 and H2 in both cell types (data not
shown). Therefore it appears that the two antibodies recognize different pools of kinesin within the same cell.
Dynein and Kinesin Reside and/or Accumulate on
Distinct VesiclePopu1ations
Both dynein and kinesin have been shown to be
associated with membranous organelles in these and
Lin et al.
Fig. 1 . Cytoplasmic dynein localizes to discrete organelles in NRK cells. Normal rat kidney fibroblasts
were fixed and double-labeled using a previously characterized polyclonal anti-dynein antibody (A) and
a monoclonal antibody specific for the cytoplasmic dynein intermediate chain subunit (B). Bar, 10 p.m.
other studies, but co-localization of these motor proteins
by light microscopy had not previously been examined.
In Figure 3, the staining patterns for cytoplasmic dynein
and kinesin in two different cell lines double-labeled using
polyclonal anti-dynein and monoclonal anti-kinesin H 1
antibodies are shown. The immunofluorescent staining
patterns for the two motor proteins were largely distinct
from one another. In all cells tested, it appeared that the
kinesin-positive organelles were greater in number and
more evenly distributed in the cytoplasm than the dyneinpositive organelles. However, there also appeared to be
some degree of overlap in the staining patterns, particularly in the 3T3 cells shown in Figure 3 A,B (arrows).
Confocal microscopy was also used to evaluate the
extent of overlap in the distributions of dynein and kinesin. In Figure 4, a rat glial cell from a culture of
primary hippocampal cells was double-labeled using
polyclonal anti-dynein antibody and monoclonal anti-kinesin HI antibody. The resulting staining patterns were
similar to those found in fibroblasts. Kinesin structures
(green) were more numerous and evenly distributed
throughout the cytoplasm than dynein positive vesicles
(red). A small degree of overlap in signal, indicated by
yellow, was found in the perinuclear region.
alter the cellular distribution of dynein-positive organelles [Lin and Collins, 19921. In the experiment
shown in Figure 5, the effect of microtubule disruption
on the relative distributions of dynein and kinesin was
evaluated. The organelle distributions were altered by
microtubule disruption, but the apparent association between the organelles and the motor molecule was not
affected. Dynein and kinesin associated organelles, labeled using anti-dynein polyclonal and kinesin H 1 monoclonal antibodies, were still largely distinct from one
another in distribution and appearance. Surprisingly, the
staining pattern found for antibody H2 was more significantly altered following microtubule disruption (Fig.
5E) compared with control cells (Fig. 2D). The localization found suggests that the kinesin recognized by antibody H2 is associated with membranous structures that
vesiculate following microtubule depolymerization, such
as the Golgi stacks [Rogalski and Singer, 19841.
Disruption of Organelle Trafficking Alters the
Distribution of Kinesin
Both kinesin and dynein remained associated with
organelles in the absence of microtubules, when these
motor proteins would be expected to be non-functional in
terms of directed force production. However, we hypothMotor Proteins Remain Associated With
esize that binding interactions between motor molecules
Organelles in the Absence of Microtubules
and their target organelles might be disrupted upon inhiNocodazole treatment of cells leads to vesiculation bition or activation of vesicle trafficking pathways under
and dispersion of the Golgi apparatus as well as redistri- other circumstances. To test this premise we examined
bution of other cellular organelles [Rogalski and Singer, several conditions that have been shown to affect micro1984; Terasaki et al., 1986; Matteoni and Kreis, 19871. tubule-dependent vesicle transport for their effect on cyVinblastine and taxol treatment have also been shown to toplasmic dynein and kinesin localization.
Dynein and Kinesin Localization
Fig. 2. Kinesin antibodies recognize different populations of organelles in fibroblasts. BHK (A,B) and
NRK (C,D) cells were fixed and labeled using kinesin monoclonal antibody H1 (A$) or antibody H2
(B,D). Bar, 10 pm.
Brefeldin A has been used to disrupt secretion in
cells, as it causes mixing of Golgi proteins with those of
the endoplasmic reticulum via a microtubule-dependent
process [Lippincott-Schwartz et al., 19901. Kinesin has
been implicated in cyclic transport between endoplasmic
reticulum and the Golgi apparatus, as microinjection of
kinesin antibody H1 specifically blocked Golgi to ER
vesicle trafficking in NRK cells [Lippincott-Schwartz et
al., 19951. We expected that upon disruption of the Golgi
apparatus with brefeldin A, kinesin might associate to a
greater extent with pre-Golgi structures. In addition, accumulation of Golgi components in the perinuclear region
has been shown to rely on cytoplasmic dynein [CorthesyTheulaz et al., 19921. Brefeldin A treatment might identify a Golgi-specific pool of cytoplasmic dynein through
loss of staining in the perinuclear region of the cell. We
examined the localization of cytoplasmic dynein and ki-
nesin in NRK cells following a 15 min incubation with
brefeldin A. The cellular distribution and organelle association of cytoplasmic dynein did not appear to be
significantly changed from control cells (data not shown).
Likewise, the kinesin epitope recognized by antibody H 1
(Fig. 6A) did not appear to change in distribution. However, as shown in Figure 6B, the kinesin antigen recognized by antibody H2 was altered significantly in its
staining pattern by brefeldin A. The epitope recognized
by this antibody behaved as might be expected for Golgi
proteins following drug treatment, as it became largely
restricted to a small bright perinuclear area, with some
additional diffuse staining throughout the cytoplasm. After wash out of the drug, the tubulovesicular pattern observed with this antibody under control conditions was
again found (Fig. 6C).
Cytoplasmic acidification has been shown to in-
Lin et al.
Fig. 3. Kinesin and dynein appear to co-localize on only a subset of
membranous organelles in cultured cells. Polyclonal antibody to cytoplasmic dynein and kinesin H1 monoclonal antibody were used to
double-label 3T3 (A,B) and NRK (C,D) cells. Dynein (A,C); kinesin
(B,D). Arrows indicate examples of organelles staining for both dynein and kinesin. Bar, 20 km.
hibit endocytosis [Cosson et al., 1989; Heuser, 1989b],
alter the shape and distribution of tubular lysosomes in
fibroblasts and macrophages [Heuser, 1989a1, and lead
to the redistribution of late endosomes in neurons and
MDCK cells [Parton et al., 19911. A similar change in
vesicle distribution was blocked in acidified hippocampal neurons by suppression of kinesin activity via antisense oligonucleotide administration [Feiguin et al.,
19941, suggesting activation of kinesin motor function
may be responsible for the anterograde accumulation of
organelles. If this were true, cytoplasmic acidification
might be expected to lead to the accumulation of kinesinpositive organelles at the plus ends of microtubules.
Conversely, dynein may no longer associate with those
organelles transported anterogradely or accumulated in
the periphery of the cell upon cellular acidification.
However, cytoplasmic dynein remains associated with
peripheral lysosomes following cytoplasmic acidification
[Lin and Collins, 19921, suggesting that dynein on these
organelles is not active in transport, or that kinesin binding and motor function predominates in this situation.
To evaluate the distribution of kinesin in acidified
cells, we treated NRK fibroblasts with 70 mM Na acetate, pH 6.5. The immunofluorescence pattern obtained
using kinesin antibody H1 changed in a striking manner
following acidification (Fig. 7). The margins of NRK
cells became brightly labeled in a discontinuous pattern.
This staining was most obvious in, but not limited to,
regions of cell-cell contact (Fig. 7A). Perinuclear vesicular staining for kinesin was observed in these cells in
addition to the peripheral pattern. The same result was
found for antibody H 1 staining following cytoplasmic
acidification of 3T3 and BHK fibroblasts, indicating that
this cellular response was not unique to one cell type
(data not shown). Following return to culture medium of
neutral pH for 1 h, the marginal kinesin staining was lost
Dynein and Kinesin Localization
Fig. 4. Cytoplasmic dynein and kinesin co-localization in rat glia. A
primary culture of rat hippocampal cells was fixed and stained using
polyclonal anti-dynein and monoclonal anti-kinesin H1 antibodies. A
glial cell is shown with superimposed confocal microscopic images
indicating kinesin (green) and cytoplasmic dynein (red). Areas of
overlap are yellow. Bar, 20 km.
(Fig. 7B). This striking redistribution was unique to the
kinesin recognized by antibody H1, as the tubulovesicular pattern found using kinesin antibody H2 was unaffected by cytoplasmic acidification (data not shown).
While the marginal staining pattern was not strictly
punctate, as might be expected for vesicle localization,
the kinesin did accumulate in a peripheral compartment,
consistent with enhanced microtubule-dependent plusend directed motility. To determine whether the peripheral accumulation of kinesin antibody H1 immunoreactivity under these conditions was due to increased kinesin
motor activity, we determined the microtubule-dependence of the acidification-induced effect. Microtubules
were depolymerized using nocodazole prior to cytoplasmic acidification and during treatment and subsequent
recovery. Nocodazole treatment did not prevent the appearance of kinesin staining at the periphery of the cells,
nor did it prevent the recovery of a control kinesin pattern following return to fresh culture medium (data not
shown). This result does not support a relationship between accumulation of kinesin and increased kinesin motor activity.
To investigate this question further, we examined
the energy dependence of motor protein-organelle association. As previously reported, vesicles positive for cytoplasmic dynein appeared somewhat more brightly
stained and concentrated in the perinuclear region fol-
lowing ATP depletion than under control conditions, and
we have interpreted this as an increase in the membraneassociated state of dephosphorylated dynein [Lin et al.,
19941. Rather than prevent the appearance of a marginal
staining pattern, ATP depletion alone led to a similar
change in distribution of the antibody H1 epitope as that
observed in acidified cells (Fig. 8). As this effect was
observed after several hours of NaN, treatment, it is
possible that ATP depletion itself led to alterations in
cellular pH or other metabolic changes that indirectly
affected kinesin localization. However, it appears that
the development and/or maintenance of this particular
kinesin distribution does not require metabolic energy.
Kinesin localization using antibody H2 was also examined in ATP-depleted cells, and was found to be altered
with treatment (Fig. 8C). The kinesin recognized by this
antibody appeared to be concentrated around a single
perinuclear point in NaN, treated cells. The Golgi apparatus was not obviously disrupted under these conditions
(data not shown).
Okadaic Acid Effects on Motor
Protein Localization
Okadaic acid is a phosphoprotein phosphatase inhibitor [Cohen et al., 19901, and previous work showed
that okadaic acid treatment leads to an apparent decrease
in the association between cytoplasmic dynein and mem-
Lin et al.
Fig. 5 . Localization of dynein and kinesin following disruption of the
microtubule network. Polyclonal anti-cytoplasmic dynein and antikinesin monoclonal antibodies were used for immunofluorescence microscopy of BHK (A-D) or NRK (E) cells following microtubule
disruption with taxol (A,B), vinblastine (C,D), or nocodazole (E).
Dynein (A,C); kinesin antibody H1 (B ,D); kinesin antibody H2 (E).
Bar, 10 prn. Arrows indicate cell margin.
Dynein and Kinesin Localization
Fig. 7. Disruption of vesicle trafficking by cytoplasmic acidification
leads to altered distribution of the kinesin H1 antigen. NRK cells were
treated as described in Materials and Methods to lower the cytoplasmic
pH (A). Acidified cells were then returned to normal culture medium
for 1 h (B). Results of immunolocalization with kinesin antibody H1
are shown. Bar, 10 pm.
Fig. 6. Kinesin localization following brefeldin A treatment. Kinesin
antibodies HI (A) and H2 (B,C) were used for immunolocalization in
brefeldin A treated NRK cells (A,B). Brefeldin A treated cells were
incubated in fresh medium for an additional 30 rnin in the absence of
drug (C). Bar, 20 pm.
branous organelles, in vivo, correlating with increased
phosphorylation of the motor molecule itself [Lin et al.,
19941. Differences in the phosphorylation state of dynein
bound to anterogradely moving organelles compared to
the total dynein population also suggest regulation of
binding site affinity or motor activity by phosphorylation
,Dillman and Pfister, 19941. we speculated that phosphorylation events may also affect kinesin association
with membranous binding sites, and as one means of
testing this we examined the effect of okadaic acid on the
distribution of kinesin in NRK cells. The localization of
Lin et al.
kinesin recognized by both antibodies H1 and H2 was
altered by okadaic acid treatment (Fig. 9). The staining
pattern for the kinesin epitope recognized by antibody
H1 was largely diffuse throughout the cytoplasm, similar
to the change in staining pattern found for dynein in
okadaic acid treated cells [Lin et al., 19941. The staining
pattern for kinesin antibody H2 was also diffuse, with
some residual staining near the nucleus (arrows). The
Golgi apparatus in okadaic acid treated cells vesiculates
[Lin et al., 19941. However, rather than the kinesin antibody H2 pattern resembling disrupted Golgi elements
as seen following nocodazole treatment, the epitope recognized by this antibody was not associated with any
discrete organelle population in okadaic acid treated
Fig. 8. ATP depletion leads to intracellular redistribution of the kinesin H1 antigen. NRK cells were treated with NaN, in glucose-free
medium to deplete cellular ATP. Polyclonal antibody to cytoplasmic
dynein (A), kinesin antibody H1 (B) and kinesin antibody H2 (C) were
used to Stain Cells following 3 (A,B) Or 4 (c)h of treatment. Bar,
20 pm.
This study represents the first attempt to examine
the co-localization of the microtubule-based motors, cytoplasmic dynein and kinesin, by immunof luorescence
microscopy. Though we find some overlap in localization of these proteins in the congested perinuclear region
of the cell, they are present primarily on discrete populations of organelles within the cultured fibroblasts and
glial cells used in this study. Analysis of these localization patterns raised several questions, and we chose to
concentrate on two of them. First, we wanted to determine whether the disparate results found by other investigators for the cellular distribution of cytoplasmic dynein and kinesin could be explained by differences in
technique, cell type, or antibody specificity. Secondly,
we wanted to address the question of whether the localization determined was representative of the population
of organelles undergoing active transport by their respective motor protein.
In addressing the first point, we found that the
staining pattern for cytoplasmic dynein was consistent
between the two antibodies used, and the labeled structures appear to be primarily lysosomes, as previously
described [Lin and Collins, 19921. Whether there is also
dynein associated with the Golgi apparatus is more difficult to address due to the concentration of dynein positive structures in the perinuclear region. A Golgi association of both kinesin and dynein might explain the
degree of overlap in staining patterns observed for these
motor proteins, however.
The difference in staining patterns between kinesin
antibodies H1 and H2 was quite striking. The diffuse
pattern in BHK
may represent either a
distribution of the kinesin antibody H2 epitope on many
membrane structures or a more ‘‘soluble’’ pool of kinesin.
However, in NRK cells the staining pattern for antibody
H2 closely resembled that of the Golgi apparatus as also
Dynein and Kinesin Localization
Fig. 9. Kinesin staining of intracellular organelles is altered following treatment with okadaic acid.
Control NRK cells (A,B), or those incubated with 1.5 pM okadaic acid for 45 min (C,D) were processed
for immunofluorescence microscopy using monoclonal anti-kinesin HI (A,C) or H2 (B,D). Bar, 10 km.
described by other investigators. In squid axoplasm and
mammalian neurons the H2 antibody recognizes small
vesicles and tubulovesicular structures [Brady et al.,
1990; Dahlstrom et al., 1991; Hirokawa et al., 19911,
suggesting that there may be cell type specific effects on
the distribution or accessibility of the kinesin epitope
recognized by this antibody. Cell type specific staining
has also been demonstrated for the SUK4 anti-sea urchin
kinesin antibody, which recognizes a dispersed vesicle
population in coelomocytes (the pre-Golgi compartment
in this cell?), but stains the Golgi apparatus in a variety
of mammalian cell lines. We show in this study that in
normal rat kidney fibroblasts both the pre-Golgi transport
vesicles and discrete Golgi-like distributions are observed, using the H1 and H2 antibodies, respectively. It
should be stressed that both these antibodies recognize
bona fide kinesin heavy chain in both brain tissue and cell
extracts. The identity of the epitopes on the kinesin heavy
chain recognized by these antibodies must be determined
before conclusions can be drawn as to the reasons behind
the differences in staining pattern seen within the same
cell, as well as between different cell types. However, it
is intriguing that the two staining patterns for kinesin we
obtained in this study within the same cell type, i.e.
pre-Golgi dispersed punctate staining and perinuclear
Golgi-like staining, describe the two staining patterns
described in the literature for kinesins using different
antibodies in different cell types. This result indicates the
presence of at least two discrete pools of kinesin within
the cell that may have distinct roles to play in vesicle
The primarily lysosomal distribution for cytoplas-
Lin et al.
mic dynein is consistent with accumulation of the motor
molecule on this organelle once it has accomplished its
minus-end transport activity. Kinesin (immunolocalized
using antibody H1) is most concentrated on vesicles that
are involved in the cyclical movement of material between Golgi and ER [Lippincott-Schwartz et al., 19951.
The Golgi-like localization for the kinesin epitope identified with antibody H2 may be a distinct pool of motor
protein destined for other transport processes, such as
secretion, and a Golgi accumulation could represent the
storage depot for this activity. Whether other forms of
bona fide kinesin (such as that required for ER distribution?) are also present but undetected with current antibody probes is an interesting problem. However, a soluble pool of kinesin, or dynein, detected as diffuse
cytoplasmic staining, would allow for local recruitment
of functional motor proteins when and where needed
throughout the cell.
Localization of motor proteins in fixed cells and
tissues provides only a static picture of their cellular
distribution. Results of immunofluorescence microscopic localization of cytoplasmic dynein and kinesin
under control conditions addressed above support our
contention that motor molecules accumulate on transport-inactive organelles which represent intermediates or
endpoints in the translocation pathway. To address the
correlation between motor protein localization and translocation activity further, we immunolocalized kinesin
and cytoplasmic dynein following a variety of treatment
conditions known to affect microtubule dependent vesicle trafficking pathways. Our results clearly indicate that
cytoplasmic dynein and kinesin remain organelle-associated in the absence of active transport, such as following
microtubule depolymerization, and changes in motor
protein distribution observed under certain treatment
conditions do not correlate with expected effects on microtubule-dependent vesicle motility.
Cytoplasmic acidification inhibits endocytosis , and
it has been suggested that cytoplasmic pH may regulate
the activity of motor molecules, with acidification inhibiting dynein and activating kinesin [Heuser, 1989b; Parton et al., 19911. Upon cytoplasmic acidification, perinuclear vesicle association and peripheral staining were
found using antibody H1 to localize kinesin, whereas the
staining patterns for cytoplasmic dynein and kinesin
epitope H2 were less drastically affected. Whether the
kinesin antibody H1 pattern is due to the accumulation of
pre-Golgi vesicles at the plasma membrane or binding of
kinesin to a different cellular organelle is not yet known.
The lack of a microtubule or ATP requirement for this
accumulation suggests that it does not result from enhanced plus-end motor activity.
Okadaic acid leads to an increase in the soluble
pool of cytoplasmic dynein, resulting in a diffuse immu-
nofluorescent staining pattern [Lin et al., 19941. A similar change in staining pattern was found in the present
study for kinesin localized using either antibody H1 or
H2. What is the significance of the soluble pools of
motor protein and the observation that that dynein and
kinesin can be “forced” into this compartment under
certain conditions? Does the normal regulation of vesicle
transport involve recruitment of motors from this soluble
pool? Evidence for a direct effect of okadaic acid on
dynein phosphorylation via inhibition of protein phosphatase 1 has been obtained [Lin et al., 19941, and protein phosphatase 1 has also been implicated in regulating
motor activity of cytoplasmic dynein [Allan, 19951. We
do not as yet have direct evidence for changes in phosphorylation of the kinesin molecule under our conditions. However, phosphorylation of kinesin [Sato-Yoshitake et al., 1992; Hollenbeck, 1993; Matthies et al.,
1993; Lee and Hollenbeck, 19951 or kinesin associated
polypeptides [McIlvain et al., 19941 has been implicated
in the regulation of kinesin-organelle association as well
as modulation of lunesin motor activity.
Under the treatment conditions described in this
study, as well as in control cells, the distribution of the
most concentrated populations of motor protein are not
representative of organelles undergoing active transport.
It will be difficult to address the relationship between
motor activity and localization further by immunochemical studies, even at the level of electron microscopy, if
indeed a single or very few motor molecules are capable
of mediating organelle translocation. The same problem
arises in studies utilizing biochemical fractionation to
localize motor proteins, in that organelle binding status
does not provide information concerning past or present
motility activity, and the presence of one or both motor
proteins in an organelle population does not provide sufficient evidence of transport in one or the other direction.
Is there then anything that can be learned from determining the localization of motor proteins? The results from
this study indicate that kinesin and dynein are localized
to largely distinct organelles within the cell, and that
their sites of binding/accumulation are differentially affected by treatments that perturb trafficking through the
organelle populations to which they are bound. Phosphorylation may be involved in the modulation of both
dynein and kinesin distribution, and changes in the integrity or transport activity of the Golgi apparatus may
alter the association of at least some population of kinesin. These results demonstrate that monitoring changes
in the intracellular distribution of kinesin and dynein may
be used as a means of investigating the nature of regulatory mechanisms controlling microtubule motor association with intracellular compartments. How this binding activity relates to motility will require the further
development of in vivo activity assays for both kinesin
Dynein and Kinesin Localization
and dynein. Such an assessment may also require the
development of more specific probes which are able to
recognize an activated or otherwise functional state of
the motor enzyme. Such probes have been useful in determining the sites of action of phosphorylated myosin I
species in Acunthumoeba, for example [Baines et al.,
19951, and further analysis of microtubule motor function in intact cells awaits similar technical advances.
We thank Kristina Ferro for technical assistance,
and members of the Pfister and Collins labs and Dr. Sam
Green for helpful discussions and critical reading of the
manuscript. This work was supported by grants from the
American Cancer Society (CAC) and NIH and the Jeffress Memorial Trust (KKP).
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