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Neurosci Lett. 2016 Jan 1;610:110-6. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2015.10.066. Epub 2015 Oct 31.

A close look at axonal transport: Cargos slow down when crossing stationary organelles.

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Department of Chemistry, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, United States.
Department of Chemistry, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, United States. Electronic address:


The bidirectional transport of cargos along the thin axon is fundamental for the structure, function and survival of neurons. Defective axonal transport has been linked to the mechanism of neurodegenerative diseases. In this paper, we study the effect of the local axonal environment to cargo transport behavior in neurons. Using dual-color fluorescence imaging in microfluidic neuronal devices, we quantify the transport dynamics of cargos when crossing stationary organelles such as non-moving endosomes and stationary mitochondria in the axon. We show that the axonal cargos tend to slow down, or pause transiently within the vicinity of stationary organelles. The slow-down effect is observed in both retrograde and anterograde transport directions of three different cargos (TrkA, lysosomes and TrkB). Our results agree with the hypothesis that bulky axonal structures can pose as steric hindrance for axonal transport. However, the results do not rule out the possibility that cellular mechanisms causing stationary organelles are also responsible for the delay in moving cargos at the same locations.


Axonal swelling; Axonal transport; Fluorescence imaging; Pseudo-TIRF microscopy; Roadblocks; Transport dynamics

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