Kinesin superfamily proteins (KIFs) are microtubule-dependent molecular motors that serve as sources of force for intracellular transport and cell division. Recent studies have revealed new roles of KIFs as microtubule stabilizers and depolymerizers, and these activities are fundamental to cellular morphogenesis and mammalian development. KIF2A and KIF19A have microtubule-depolymerizing activities and regulate the neuronal morphology and cilia length, respectively. KIF21A and KIF26A work as microtubule stabilizers that regulate axonal morphology. Morphological defects that are similar to human diseases are observed in mice in which these KIF genes have been deleted. Actually, KIF2A and KIF21A have been identified as causes of human neuronal diseases. In this review, the functions of these atypical KIFs that regulate microtubule dynamics are discussed. Moreover, some interesting unanswered questions and hypothetical answers to them are discussed.
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