Conversion of Unc104/KIF1A kinesin into a processive motor after dimerization.
Unc104/KIF1A belongs to a class of monomeric kinesin motors that have been thought to possess an unusual motility mechanism. Unlike the unidirectional motion driven by the coordinated actions of the two heads in conventional kinesins, single-headed KIF1A was reported to undergo biased diffusional motion along microtubules. Here, we show that Unc104/KIF1A can dimerize and move unidirectionally and processively with rapid velocities characteristic of transport in living cells. These results suggest that Unc104/KIF1A operates in vivo by a mechanism similar to conventional kinesin and that regulation of motor dimerization may be used to control transport by this class of kinesins.