Rotational dynamics of cargos at pauses during axonal transport

Nat Commun. 2012;3:1030. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2037.


Direct visualization of axonal transport in live neurons is essential for our understanding of the neuronal functions and the working mechanisms of microtubule-based motor proteins. Here we use the high-speed single particle orientation and rotational tracking technique to directly visualize the rotational dynamics of cargos in both active directional transport and pausing stages of axonal transport, with a temporal resolution of 2 ms. Both long and short pauses are imaged, and the correlations between the pause duration, the rotational behaviour of the cargo at the pause, and the moving direction after the pause are established. Furthermore, the rotational dynamics leading to switching tracks are visualized in detail. These first-time observations of cargo's rotational dynamics provide new insights on how kinesin and dynein motors take the cargo through the alternating stages of active directional transport and pause.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport*
  • Axons / chemistry
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Dyneins / metabolism
  • Endocytosis
  • Kinesin / metabolism
  • PC12 Cells
  • Rats
  • Rotation


  • Dyneins
  • Kinesin