Microtubule transport in the axon

Int Rev Cytol. 2002;212:41-62. doi: 10.1016/s0074-7696(01)12003-6.


There has been a great deal of interest in how the microtubule array of the axon is established and maintained. In an early model, it was proposed that microtubules are actively transported from the cell body of the neuron down the length of the axon. This model has been contested over the years in favor of very different models based on stationary microtubules. It appears that a corner has finally been turned in this long-standing controversy. It is now clear that cells contain molecular motor proteins capable of transporting microtubules and that microtubule transport is an essential component in the formation of microtubule arrays across many cells types. A wide variety of cell biological approaches have provided strong indirect evidence that microtubules are indeed transported within axons, and new live-cell imaging approaches are beginning to permit the direct visualization of this transport. The molecules and mechanisms that transport microtubules within axons are also under intense study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport / drug effects
  • Axonal Transport / physiology*
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Molecular Motor Proteins / physiology*
  • Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Nervous System / ultrastructure
  • Protein Transport / drug effects
  • Protein Transport / physiology*


  • Molecular Motor Proteins