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Phys Biol. 2004 Jun;1(1-2):R1-11.

Hither and yon: a review of bi-directional microtubule-based transport.

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Department of Developmental and Cell Biology, 2222 Nat. Sci. I, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA 926976, USA.


Active transport is critical for cellular organization and function, and impaired transport has been linked to diseases such as neuronal degeneration. Much long distance transport in cells uses opposite polarity molecular motors of the kinesin and dynein families to move cargos along microtubules. It is increasingly clear that many cargos are moved by both sets of motors, and frequently reverse course. This review compares this bi-directional transport to the more well studied uni-directional transport. It discusses some bi-directionally moving cargos, and critically evaluates three different physical models for how such transport might occur. It then considers the evidence for the number of active motors per cargo, and how the net or average direction of transport might be controlled. The likelihood of a complex linking the activities of kinesin and dynein is also discussed. The paper concludes by reviewing elements of apparent universality between different bi-directionally moving cargos and by briefly considering possible reasons for the existence of bi-directional transport.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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