Molecular motors in axonal transport. Cellular and molecular biology of kinesin. Academic Article uri icon


  • Neurons require a large amount of intracellular transport. Cytoplasmic polypeptides and membrane-bounded organelles move from the perikaryon, down the length of the axon, and to the synaptic terminals. This movement occurs at distinct rates and is termed axonal transport. Axonal transport is divided into the slow transport of cytoplasmic proteins including glycolytic enzymes and cytoskeletal structures and the fast transport of membrane-bounded organelles along linear arrays of microtubules. The polypeptide compositions of the rate classes of axonal transport have been well characterized, but the underlying molecular mechanisms of this movement are less clear. Progress has been particularly slow toward understanding force-generation in slow transport, but recent developments have provided insight into the molecular motors involved in fast axonal transport. Recent advances in the cellular and molecular biology of one fast axonal transport motor, kinesin, have provided a clearer understanding of organelle movement along microtubules. The availability of cellular and molecular probes for kinesin and other putative axonal transport motors have led to a reevaluation of our understanding of intracellular motility.

publication date

  • June 1992