MAP2 Defines a Pre-axonal Filtering Zone to Regulate KIF1- versus KIF5-Dependent Cargo Transport in Sensory Neurons

Neuron. 2017 Apr 19;94(2):347-362.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.03.046.


Polarized cargo transport is essential for neuronal function. However, the minimal basic components required for selective cargo sorting and distribution in neurons remain elusive. We found that in sensory neurons the axon initial segment is largely absent and that microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP2) defines the cargo-filtering zone in the proximal axon. Here, MAP2 directs axonal cargo entry by coordinating the activities of molecular motors. We show that distinct kinesins differentially regulate cargo velocity: kinesin-3 drives fast axonal cargo trafficking, while kinesin-1 slows down axonal cargo transport. MAP2 inhibits "slow" kinesin-1 motor activity and allows kinesin-3 to drive robust cargo transport from the soma into the axon. In the distal axon, the inhibitory action of MAP2 decreases, leading to regained kinesin-1 activity and vesicle distribution. We propose that selective axonal cargo trafficking requires the MAP2-defined pre-axonal filtering zone and the ability of cargos to switch between distinct kinesin motor activities.

Keywords: KIF1; KIF5; MAP2; axonal transport; cargo trafficking; cytoskeleton; dorsal root ganglion (DRG); microtubule; sensory neuron.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport / physiology*
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dendrites / metabolism
  • Kinesins / metabolism*
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism*
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Rats
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / metabolism*


  • MAP2 protein, rat
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Kinesins