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J Cell Biol. 2009 Dec 28;187(7):1071-82. doi: 10.1083/jcb.200908075.

Opposite-polarity motors activate one another to trigger cargo transport in live cells.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


Intracellular transport is typically bidirectional, consisting of a series of back and forth movements. Kinesin-1 and cytoplasmic dynein require each other for bidirectional transport of intracellular cargo along microtubules; i.e., inhibition or depletion of kinesin-1 abolishes dynein-driven cargo transport and vice versa. Using Drosophila melanogaster S2 cells, we demonstrate that replacement of endogenous kinesin-1 or dynein with an unrelated, peroxisome-targeted motor of the same directionality activates peroxisome transport in the opposite direction. However, motility-deficient versions of motors, which retain the ability to bind microtubules and hydrolyze adenosine triphosphate, do not activate peroxisome motility. Thus, any pair of opposite-polarity motors, provided they move along microtubules, can activate one another. These results demonstrate that mechanical interactions between opposite-polarity motors are necessary and sufficient for bidirectional organelle transport in live cells.

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