Molecular requirements for bi-directional movement of phagosomes along microtubules. Academic Article uri icon


  • Microtubules facilitate the maturation of phagosomes by favoring their interactions with endocytic compartments. Here, we show that phagosomes move within cells along tracks of several microns centrifugally and centripetally in a pH- and microtubule-dependent manner. Phagosome movement was reconstituted in vitro and required energy, cytosol and membrane proteins of this organelle. The activity or presence of these phagosome proteins was regulated as the organelle matured, with "late" phagosomes moving threefold more frequently than "early" ones. The majority of moving phagosomes were minus-end directed; the remainder moved towards microtubule plus-ends and a small subset moved bi-directionally. Minus-end movement showed pharmacological characteristics expected for dyneins, was inhibited by immunodepletion of cytoplasmic dynein and could be restored by addition of cytoplasmic dynein. Plus-end movement displayed pharmacological properties of kinesin, was inhibited partially by immunodepletion of kinesin and fully by addition of an anti-kinesin IgG. Immunodepletion of dynactin, a dynein-activating complex, inhibited only minus-end directed motility. Evidence is provided for a dynactin-associated kinase required for dynein-mediated vesicle transport. Movement in both directions was inhibited by peptide fragments from kinectin (a putative kinesin membrane receptor), derived from the region to which a motility-blocking antibody binds. Polypeptide subunits from these microtubule-based motility factors were detected on phagosomes by immunoblotting or immunoelectron microscopy. This is the first study using a single in vitro system that describes the roles played by kinesin, kinectin, cytoplasmic dynein, and dynactin in the microtubule-mediated movement of a purified membrane organelle.

publication date

  • April 7, 1997