This paper describes the molecular and biochemical properties of KLP68D, a new kinesin-like motor protein in Drosophila melanogaster. Sequence analysis of a full-length cDNA encoding KLP68D demonstrates that this protein has a domain that shares significant sequence identity with the entire 340-amin acid kinesin heavy chain motor domain. Sequences extending beyond the motor domain predict a region of alpha-helical coiled-coil followed by a globular "tail" region; there is significant sequence similarity between the alpha-helical coiled-coil region of the KLP68D protein and similar regions of the KIF3 protein of mouse and the KRP85 protein of sea urchin. This finding suggests that all three proteins may be members of the same family, and that they all perform related functions. KLP68D protein produced in Escherichia coli is, like kinesin itself, a plus-end directed microtubule motor. In situ hybridization analysis of KLP68D RNA in Drosophila embryos indicates that the KLP68D gene is expressed primarily in the central nervous system and in a subset of the peripheral nervous system during embryogenesis. Thus, KLP68D may be used for anterograde axonal transport and could conceivably move cargoes in fly neurons different than those moved by kinesin heavy chain or other plus-end directed motors.

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