KIF1A.ORG’s 17th Research Roundtable meeting, “A new KAND barometer: The number of KIF1A molecules needed for axonal transport” was presented by Dr. Kumiko Hayashi at Tohoku University in Japan.





Who Is Dr. Hayashi?

Dr. Hayashi is an associate professor in the Department of Applied Physics at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. As someone whose loved ones have been impacted by epilepsy and neurological disorders, she strives to use her physics and mathematical training to better understand neurobiology. In recent years she has focused on better characterizing the mechanics of the KIF1A motor protein by studying cargo movement in cultured neurons and worm models.


“A new KAND barometer: The number of KIF1A molecules needed for axonal transport.”

  • While a common image of KIF1A is a single dimer (two intertwined proteins pictured above in this kinesin GIF) laboriously hauling massive cargo along a neuron, kinesin motors often work as groups. This facilitates transport of larger hauls and moves them more consistently—if one motor stops the others can keep going.
  • Mutations that impact KIF1A’s ability to bind to cargo can cause less KIF1A molecules to work together, making transport less efficient. This can explain cargo transport issues that occur in mutations outside of KIF1A’s motor domain.
  • Cargo doesn’t move at a constant speed—there is a jitter that occurs during KIF1A’s movement, and the amount of jittering may relate to the number of KIF1A motors attached to a cargo. Dr. Hayashi is using complex mathematical modeling to quantify this number, which could provide a new metric to assess KIF1A mutations and potential treatments in a therapeutic pipeline.
  • Dr. Hayashi was also a recipient of one of KIF1A.ORG’s 2021 Mini-Grants! To learn more about her work and research aims, read this post.

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