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Biophysical studies of axonal transport

Leslie C Conway, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Intracellular transport provides a mechanism by which cellular material, such as organelles, vesicles, and protein, can be actively transported throughout the cell. This process relies on the activity of the cytoskeletal filament, microtubules, and their associated motor proteins. These motors are able to walk along microtubule tracks while carrying cellular cargos to enable the fast, regulated transport of these cargos. In cells, these microtubule filaments act as a binding platform for numerous different motor species as well as microtubule-associated proteins. In addition, these filaments often form higher order structures, such as microtubule bundles. How motors navigate such complex, crowded tracks to ensure the efficient transport of cargos is unclear. While motor transport can be studied in vivo, such studies are complicated to interpret as there are many unknowns, such as which motors are driving transport, which MAPs are bound to specific regions of microtubule tracks, and what types of microtubule architectures are present. Here I use in vitro studies to reconstitute motor transport and systematically study how motors navigate complex microtubule tracks. With this system, I can control the motor type, the relative number of motors per cargo, and the types of tracks I study transport on. To understand how kinesin motors navigate complex microtubule tracks, I studied how motor traffic and microtubule architecture affect kinesin motor transport. In addition, I also studied how motor domain mutations affect the transport properties of kinesin motors. The studies presented here shed light on how motor transport is altered on complex microtubule tracks, as well as mechanisms utilized by kinesin motors to efficiently navigate these complex tracks.^

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Conway, Leslie C, "Biophysical studies of axonal transport" (2014). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3615404.