Microtubule-based transport - basic mechanisms, traffic rules and role in neurological pathogenesis

J Cell Sci. 2013 Jun 1;126(Pt 11):2319-29. doi: 10.1242/jcs.115030. Epub 2013 May 31.


Microtubule-based transport is essential for neuronal function because of the large distances that must be traveled by various building blocks and cellular materials. Recent studies in various model systems have unraveled several regulatory mechanisms and traffic rules that control the specificity, directionality and delivery of neuronal cargos. Local microtubule cues, opposing motor activity and cargo-adaptors that regulate motor activity control microtubule-based transport in neurons. Impairment of intracellular transport is detrimental to neurons and has emerged as a common factor in several neurological disorders. Genetic approaches have revealed strong links between intracellular transport processes and the pathogenesis of neurological diseases in both the central and peripheral nervous system. This Commentary highlights recent advances in these areas and discusses the transport defects that are associated with the development of neurological diseases.

Keywords: Adaptor proteins; Brain; Dynein; Kinesin; Microtubule; Neurological disease; Neuron; Transport.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active / genetics
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / genetics
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / metabolism*
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Humans
  • Microtubules / genetics
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / genetics
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / metabolism*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / pathology