MARK/PAR1 kinase is a regulator of microtubule-dependent transport in axons

J Cell Biol. 2004 Oct 11;167(1):99-110. doi: 10.1083/jcb.200401085. Epub 2004 Oct 4.


Microtubule-dependent transport of vesicles and organelles appears saltatory because particles switch between periods of rest, random Brownian motion, and active transport. The transport can be regulated through motor proteins, cargo adaptors, or microtubule tracks. We report here a mechanism whereby microtubule associated proteins (MAPs) represent obstacles to motors which can be regulated by microtubule affinity regulating kinase (MARK)/Par-1, a family of kinases that is known for its involvement in establishing cell polarity and in phosphorylating tau protein during Alzheimer neurodegeneration. Expression of MARK causes the phosphorylation of MAPs at their KXGS motifs, thereby detaching MAPs from the microtubules and thus facilitating the transport of particles. This occurs without impairing the intrinsic activity of motors because the velocity during active movement remains unchanged. In primary retinal ganglion cells, transfection with tau leads to the inhibition of axonal transport of mitochondria, APP vesicles, and other cell components which leads to starvation of axons and vulnerability against stress. This transport inhibition can be rescued by phosphorylating tau with MARK.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / genetics
  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Biological Transport
  • CHO Cells
  • Cricetinae
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Phosphorylation
  • Plasmids / metabolism
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Transfection
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • tau Proteins
  • MARK1 protein, human
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases