Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2004;20:759-79. doi: 10.1146/annurev.cellbio.20.012103.094623.


Dynactin is a multisubunit protein complex that is required for most, if not all, types of cytoplasmic dynein activity in eukaryotes. Dynactin binds dynein directly and allows the motor to traverse the microtubule lattice over long distances. A single dynactin subunit, p150Glued, is sufficient for both activities, yet dynactin contains several other subunits that are organized into an elaborate structure. It is currently believed that the bulk of the dynactin structure participates in interactions with a wide range of cellular structures, many of which are cargoes of the dynein motor. Genetic studies verify the importance of all elements of dynactin structure to its function. Although dynein can bind some membranous cargoes independently of dynactin, establishment of a fully functional dynein-cargo link appears to depend on dynactin. In this review, I summarize what is presently known about dynactin structure, the cellular structures with which it associates, and the intermolecular interactions that underlie and regulate binding. Although the molecular details of dynactin's interactions with membranous organelles and other molecules are complex, the framework provided here is intended to distill what is presently known and to be of use to dynactin specialists and beginners alike.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dynactin Complex
  • Intracellular Space / chemistry
  • Intracellular Space / metabolism
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / analysis
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / chemistry*
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / physiology*
  • Protein Subunits / chemistry
  • Protein Subunits / physiology


  • Dynactin Complex
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Protein Subunits