Dynactin is a 1.1 MDa complex that activates the molecular motor, dynein, for ultra-processive transport along microtubules. In order to do this it forms a tripartite complex with dynein and a coiled-coil adaptor. Dynactin consists of an actin-related filament whose length is defined by its flexible shoulder domain. Despite previous cryo-EM structures, the molecular architecture of the shoulder and pointed end of the filament is still poorly understood due to the lack of high-resolution information in these regions. Here we combine multiple cryo-EM datasets and define precise masking strategies for particle signal subtraction and 3D classification. This overcomes domain flexibility and results in high resolution maps into which we can build the shoulder and pointed end. The unique architecture of the shoulder positions the four identical p50 subunits in different conformations to bind dynactin's filament and securely houses the p150 subunit. The pointed end map allows us to build the first structure of p62, and reveals the molecular basis for cargo adaptor binding to different sites at the pointed end. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
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