Kinesin-5 motors are essential to separate mitotic spindle poles and assemble a bipolar spindle in many organisms. These motors crosslink and slide apart antiparallel microtubules via microtubule plus-end-directed motility. However, kinesin-5 localization is enhanced away from antiparallel overlaps. Increasing evidence suggests this localization occurs due to bidirectional motility or trafficking. The purified fission-yeast kinesin-5 protein Cut7 moves bidirectionally, but bidirectionality has not been shown in cells, and the function of the minus-end-directed movement is unknown. Here, we characterized the motility of Cut7 on bipolar and monopolar spindles and observed movement toward both plus- and minus-ends of microtubules. Notably, the activity of the motor increased at anaphase B onset. Perturbations to microtubule dynamics only modestly changed Cut7 movement, whereas Cut7 mutation reduced movement. These results suggest that the directed motility of Cut7 contributes to the movement of the motor. Comparison of the Cut7 mutant and human Eg5 (also known as KIF11) localization suggest a new hypothesis for the function of minus-end-directed motility and spindle-pole localization of kinesin-5s.

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