Dynein efficiently navigates the dendritic cytoskeleton to drive the retrograde trafficking of BDNF/TrkB signaling endosomes

Mol Biol Cell. 2017 Sep 15;28(19):2543-2554. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E17-01-0068. Epub 2017 Jul 18.


The efficient transport of cargoes within axons and dendrites is critical for neuronal function. Although we have a basic understanding of axonal transport, much less is known about transport in dendrites. We used an optogenetic approach to recruit motor proteins to cargo in real time within axons or dendrites in hippocampal neurons. Kinesin-1, a robust axonal motor, moves cargo less efficiently in dendrites. In contrast, cytoplasmic dynein efficiently navigates both axons and dendrites; in both compartments, dynamic microtubule plus ends enhance dynein-dependent transport. To test the predictions of the optogenetic assay, we examined the contribution of dynein to the motility of an endogenous dendritic cargo and found that dynein inhibition eliminates the retrograde bias of BDNF/TrkB trafficking. However, inhibition of microtubule dynamics has no effect on BDNF/TrkB motility, suggesting that dendritic kinesin motors may cooperate with dynein to drive the transport of signaling endosomes into the soma. Collectively our data highlight compartment-specific differences in kinesin activity that likely reflect specialized tuning for localized cytoskeletal determinants, whereas dynein activity is less compartment specific but is more responsive to changes in microtubule dynamics.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytoplasmic Dyneins / metabolism
  • Cytoplasmic Dyneins / physiology*
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology
  • Dendrites / metabolism
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Endosomes / metabolism
  • Endosomes / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Kinesin / metabolism
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Myosins / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Protein Transport
  • Rats
  • Receptor, trkB / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Ntrk2 protein, rat
  • Receptor, trkB
  • Myosins
  • Cytoplasmic Dyneins
  • Kinesin