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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2000 Mar 17;1496(1):128-41.

Roles of motor proteins in building microtubule-based structures: a basic principle of cellular design.

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Section of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of California-Davis, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Eukaryotic cells must build a complex infrastructure of microtubules (MTs) and associated proteins to carry out a variety of functions. A growing body of evidence indicates that a major function of MT-associated motor proteins is to assemble and maintain this infrastructure. In this context, we examine the mechanisms utilized by motors to construct the arrays of MTs and associated proteins contained within the mitotic spindle, neuronal processes, and ciliary axonemes. We focus on the capacity of motors to drive the 'sliding filament mechanism' that is involved in the construction and maintenance of spindles, axons and dendrites, and on a type of particle transport called 'intraflagellar transport' which contributes to the assembly and maintenance of axonemes.

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