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Trends Cell Biol. 2004 May;14(5):233-40.

Motor neurons rely on motor proteins.

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University of Pennsylvania, D400 Richards Building, 3700 Hamilton Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6085, USA.


The importance of active axonal transport to the neuron has been highlighted by the recent discoveries that mutations in microtubule motor proteins result in neurodegenerative diseases. Mutations affecting microtubule motor function have been shown to cause hereditary forms of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (type 2A), hereditary spastic paraplegia and motor neuron disease. Although motor neurons appear to be uniquely susceptible to defects in axonal transport, recent work has identified links between perturbations in axonal transport and the pathogenesis of other neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's disease and Alzheimer's disease. More broadly, cytoskeletal abnormalities might also be at the root of related disorders such as spinal muscular atrophy, supporting a key role for axonal transport in the pathogenesis of many neurodegenerative diseases.

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