Membrane-bound organelles move bidirectionally along microtubules in the freshwater ameba, Reticulomyxa. We have examined the nucleotide requirements for transport in a lysed cell model and compared them with kinesin and dynein-driven motility in other systems. Both anterograde and retrograde transport in Reticulomyxa show features characteristic of dynein but not of kinesin-powered movements: organelle transport is reactivated only by ATP and no other nucleoside triphosphates; the Km and Vmax of the ATP-driven movements are similar to values obtained for dynein rather than kinesin-driven movement; and of 15 ATP analogues tested for their ability to promote organelle transport, only 4 of them did. This narrow specificity resembles that of dynein-mediated in vitro transport and is dissimilar to the broad specificity of the kinesin motor (Shimizu, T., K. Furusawa, S. Ohashi, Y. Y. Toyoshima, M. Okuno, F. Malik, and R. D. Vale. 1991. J. Cell Biol. 112: 1189-1197). Remarkably, anterograde and retrograde organelle transport cannot be distinguished at all with respect to nucleotide specificity, kinetics of movement, and the ability to use the ATP analogues. Since the "kinetic fingerprints" of the motors driving transport in opposite directions are indistinguishable, the same type of motor(s) may be involved in the two directions of movement.

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