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Biol Cell. 2013 Oct;105(10):465-87. doi: 10.1111/boc.201300012. Epub 2013 Jul 25.

MAPping out distribution routes for kinesin couriers.

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Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology, Birkbeck College, London, WC1E 7HX, UK.


In the crowded environment of eukaryotic cells, diffusion is an inefficient distribution mechanism for cellular components. Long-distance active transport is required and is performed by molecular motors including kinesins. Furthermore, in highly polarised, compartmentalised and plastic cells such as neurons, regulatory mechanisms are required to ensure appropriate spatio-temporal delivery of neuronal components. The kinesin machinery has diversified into a large number of kinesin motor proteins as well as adaptor proteins that are associated with subsets of cargo. However, many mechanisms contribute to the correct delivery of these cargos to their target domains. One mechanism is through motor recognition of sub-domain-specific microtubule (MT) tracks, sign-posted by different tubulin isoforms, tubulin post-translational modifications, tubulin GTPase activity and MT-associated proteins (MAPs). With neurons as a model system, a critical review of these regulatory mechanisms is presented here, with a particular focus on the emerging contribution of compartmentalised MAPs. Overall, we conclude that - especially for axonal cargo - alterations to the MT track can influence transport, although in vivo, it is likely that multiple track-based effects act synergistically to ensure accurate cargo distribution.


Kinesin; Microtubule; Microtubule-associated protein; Neuron; Transport

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