Molecular motors and mechanisms of directional transport in neurons

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2005 Mar;6(3):201-14. doi: 10.1038/nrn1624.


Intracellular transport is fundamental for neuronal morphogenesis, function and survival. Many proteins are selectively transported to either axons or dendrites. In addition, some specific mRNAs are transported to dendrites for local translation. Proteins of the kinesin superfamily participate in selective transport by using adaptor or scaffolding proteins to recognize and bind cargoes. The molecular components of RNA-transporting granules have been identified, and it is becoming clear how cargoes are directed to axons and dendrites by kinesin superfamily proteins. Here we discuss the molecular mechanisms of directional axonal and dendritic transport with specific emphasis on the role of motor proteins and their mechanisms of cargo recognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport / physiology
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Biological Transport
  • Dendrites / metabolism
  • Kinesins / chemistry
  • Kinesins / genetics
  • Kinesins / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Models, Neurological
  • Molecular Motor Proteins / chemistry
  • Molecular Motor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding


  • Molecular Motor Proteins
  • Kinesins