Molecular motors in neurons: transport mechanisms and roles in brain function, development, and disease

Neuron. 2010 Nov 18;68(4):610-38. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.09.039.


The kinesin, dynein, and myosin superfamily molecular motors have fundamental roles in neuronal function, plasticity, morphogenesis, and survival by transporting cargos such as synaptic vesicle precursors, neurotransmitter and neurotrophic factor receptors, and mRNAs within axons, dendrites, and synapses. Recent studies have begun to clarify the mechanisms of cargo selection and directional transport in subcellular compartments. Furthermore, molecular genetics has revealed unexpected roles for molecular motors in brain wiring, neuronal survival, neuronal plasticity, higher brain function, and control of central nervous system and peripheral nervous system development. Finally, it is also evident that molecular motors are critically involved in neuronal disease pathogenesis. Thus, molecular motor research is becoming an exciting frontier of neuroscience.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain Diseases / genetics
  • Brain Diseases / metabolism*
  • Brain Diseases / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Molecular Motor Proteins / classification
  • Molecular Motor Proteins / genetics
  • Molecular Motor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Molecular Motor Proteins / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / genetics
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Protein Transport / genetics
  • Protein Transport / physiology


  • Molecular Motor Proteins