Visualization of Slow Axonal Transport in Vivo

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Science  09 Aug 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5276, pp. 784-788
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5276.784


In axons, cytoskeletal constituents move by slow transport. However, it remains controversial whether axonal neurofilaments are dynamic structures in which only subunits are transported or whether filaments assemble in the proximal axon and are transported intact as polymers to the axon terminus. To investigate the form neurofilament proteins take during transport, neurons of transgenic mice lacking axonal neurofilaments were infected with a recombinant adenoviral vector encoding epitope-tagged neurofilament M. Confocal and electron microscopy revealed that the virally encoded neurofilament M was transported in unpolymerized form along axonal microtubules. Thus, neurofilament proteins are probably transported as subunits or small oligomers along microtubules, which are major routes for slow axonal transport.

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