Recycling of kinesin-1 motors by diffusion after transport

PLoS One. 2013 Sep 30;8(9):e76081. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0076081. eCollection 2013.


Kinesin motors drive the long-distance anterograde transport of cellular components along microtubule tracks. Kinesin-dependent transport plays a critical role in neurogenesis and neuronal function due to the large distance separating the soma and nerve terminal. The fate of kinesin motors after delivery of their cargoes is unknown but has been postulated to involve degradation at the nerve terminal, recycling via retrograde motors, and/or recycling via diffusion. We set out to test these models concerning the fate of kinesin-1 motors after completion of transport in neuronal cells. We find that kinesin-1 motors are neither degraded nor returned by retrograde motors. By combining mathematical modeling and experimental analysis, we propose a model in which the distribution and recycling of kinesin-1 motors fits a "loose bucket brigade" where individual motors alter between periods of active transport and free diffusion within neuronal processes. These results suggest that individual kinesin-1 motors are utilized for multiple rounds of transport.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active / physiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Computer Simulation
  • Diffusion
  • Kinesins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Models, Biological*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Proteolysis


  • Kinesins