A Combinatorial MAP Code Dictates Polarized Microtubule Transport

Dev Cell. 2020 Apr 6;53(1):60-72.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2020.01.029. Epub 2020 Feb 27.


Many eukaryotic cells distribute their intracellular components asymmetrically through regulated active transport driven by molecular motors along microtubule tracks. While intrinsic and extrinsic regulation of motor activity exists, what governs the overall distribution of activated motor-cargo complexes within cells remains unclear. Here, we utilize in vitro reconstitution of purified motor proteins and non-enzymatic microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) to demonstrate that MAPs exhibit distinct influences on the motility of the three main classes of transport motors: kinesin-1, kinesin-3, and cytoplasmic dynein. Further, we dissect how combinations of MAPs affect motors and unveil MAP9 as a positive modulator of kinesin-3 motility. From these data, we propose a general "MAP code" that has the capacity to strongly bias directed movement along microtubules and helps elucidate the intricate intracellular sorting observed in highly polarized cells such as neurons.

Keywords: MAP2; MAP7; MAP9; doublecortin; doublecortin-like kinase; dynein; kinesin; microtubule; microtubule-associated protein; tau.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Dyneins / metabolism*
  • Kinesins / metabolism
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism*
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Protein Transport / physiology*


  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Dyneins
  • Kinesins