#ScienceSaturday posts share exciting scientific developments and educational resources with the KAND community. Each week, Dr. Dominique Lessard and Dr. Dylan Verden of KIF1A.ORG summarize newly published KIF1A-related research and highlight progress in rare disease research and therapeutic development.

KIF1A Community Update: 2022 Conference Recordings

On August 13, we had the pleasure of joining many of you at our virtual 2022 KAND Family & Scientific Engagement Conference. We’re so grateful to the families, researchers, and clinicians who rallied around our relentless pursuit of KAND treatments and cures. For those who weren’t able to attend, want to watch a session again, or are eager to share with others in your network, we have great news: All presentations from the conference are available now! Follow the link below to catch up on the latest updates from our community.

KIF1A-Related Research

Kinesin-3 motors are fine-tuned at the molecular level to endow distinct mechanical outputs

Kinesin-3 motors, including KIF1A, are often called extraordinary motors by our Research Network. One reason is the incredible speed that makes them the cheetahs of the kinesin family. But what contributes to this fast movement? In this week’s #ScienceSaturday, researchers compared the properties of kinesin-3 motors side-by-side.

The authors investigated four members of the kinesin-3 family: KIF1A, KIF13A, KIF13B, and KIF16B. They found that their fast-stepping pace closely matches the rate at which they turn over ATP, their primary energy source. This high ATP turnover only occurred when the kinesin-3 motors were in their active state.

KIF1A was the fastest motor in the kinesin-3 family. It also had the lowest affinity for microtubules, meaning it stuck to the microtubule less than other motors. In fact, the authors found that kinesin speed and microtubule affinity were inversely related: The stickier the motor, the slower it goes!

Kinesins that bind the microtubule less strongly move faster. From Soppina et al. 2022.

A particular section of the kinesin-3 motor domain called loop8 was found to mediate this relationship – loop8 is positively charged and attracted to microtubules’ negative charges. Kinesins that move slower have more of these positive charges. But even KIF1A needs some positive charges in loop8 so that it has traction on the microtubule! Mutating positively charged sections of loop8 in KIF1A changed KIF1A’s microtubule affinity and ability to transport cargo to cell processes.

The authors describe how these studies contribute to our understanding of KIF1A movement: “Analogies between kinesin-3 unique mechanical outputs and a sprinting cheetah: powerful muscle strength (high ATPase activity), firm traction (K-loop and loop8), and decreased ground contact time (lower MT affinity).”

Rare Roundup

OSTP Issues Guidance to Make Federally Funded Research Freely Available Without Delay

One of KIF1A.ORG’s guiding principles is that advances in our knowledge of KIF1A should be shared so we can keep our family community informed and accelerate our relentless search for treatments. Unfortunately, open science is often hindered by journal paywalls that restrict access to research findings.

Even federally funded studies may only be available by paying for an article or journal subscription, effectively charging taxpayers a second time to access research they funded. This can also be a barrier for other researchers in the field who want to read, and build upon, existing studies. While individual open source journals have facilitated shared science, we need systemic changes to science accessibility.

This week, the White House Office of Science and Technology (OSTP) released policy guidance to make federally funded research papers, and their data, openly available without paywalls by December 31, 2025. This represents a huge step forward in making science accessible and collaborative. Dr. Alondra Nelson, the head of OSTP, spoke to the benefits of open research: “When research is widely available to other researchers and the public, it can save lives, provide policymakers with the tools to make critical decisions, and drive more equitable outcomes across every sector of society.”

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