Nano-positioning and tubulin conformation contribute to axonal transport regulation of mitochondria along microtubules.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, Volume 119, Issue 45, p.e2203499119 (2022)


Axonal Transport, Axons, Kinesins, Microtubules, Mitochondria, Molecular Conformation, Tubulin


<p>Correct spatiotemporal distribution of organelles and vesicles is crucial for healthy cell functioning and is regulated by intracellular transport mechanisms. Controlled transport of bulky mitochondria is especially important in polarized cells such as neurons that rely on these organelles to locally produce energy and buffer calcium. Mitochondrial transport requires and depends on microtubules that fill much of the available axonal space. How mitochondrial transport is affected by their position within the microtubule bundles is not known. Here, we found that anterograde transport, driven by kinesin motors, is susceptible to the molecular conformation of tubulin in neurons both in vitro and in vivo. Anterograde velocities negatively correlate with the density of elongated tubulin dimers like guanosine triphosphate (GTP)-tubulin. The impact of the tubulin conformation depends primarily on where a mitochondrion is positioned, either within or at the rim of microtubule bundle. Increasing elongated tubulin levels lowers the number of motile anterograde mitochondria within the microtubule bundle and increases anterograde transport speed at the microtubule bundle rim. We demonstrate that the increased kinesin velocity and density on microtubules consisting of elongated dimers add to the increased mitochondrial dynamics. Our work indicates that the molecular conformation of tubulin contributes to the regulation of mitochondrial motility and as such to the local distribution of mitochondria along axons.</p>

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