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Curr Biol. 1999 Jul 29-Aug 12;9(15):779-85.

Kinesin and dynein mutants provide novel insights into the roles of vesicle traffic during cell morphogenesis in Neurospora.

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Adolf Butenandt Institut, Zellbiologie, University of Munich, 80336, Munich, Germany.



Kinesin and cytoplasmic dynein are force-generating molecules that move in opposite directions along microtubules. They have been implicated in the directed transport of a wide variety of cellular organelles, but it is unclear whether they have overlapping or largely independent functions.


We analyzed organelle transport in kinesin and dynein single mutants, and in a kinesin and dynein double mutant of Neurospora crassa. Remarkably, the simultaneous mutation of kinesin and dynein was not lethal and resulted in an additive phenotype that combined the features of the single mutants. The mutation of kinesin and dynein had opposite effects on the apical and retrograde transport, respectively, of vesicular organelles. In the kinesin mutant, apical movement of submicroscopic, secretory vesicles to the Spitzenkörper - an organelle in the hyphal apex - was defective, whereas the predominantly retrograde movement of microscopic organelles was only slightly reduced. In contrast, the dynein mutant still had a prominent Spitzenkörper, demonstrating that apical transport was intact, but retrograde transport was essentially inhibited completely. A major defect in vacuole formation and dynamics was also evident. In agreement with the observations on apical transport, protein secretion into the medium was markedly inhibited in the kinesin mutant but not in the dynein mutant.


Transport of secretory vesicles is necessary but not sufficient for normal apical extension. A component of retrograde transport, presumably precursors of the vacuole system, is also essential. Our findings provide new information on the role microtubule motors play in cell morphogenesis and suggest that kinesin and cytoplasmic dynein have largely independent functions within separate pathways.

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