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Protein called kinesin-2 controls growth direction of microtubules in neurons

25 August 2020

Tube Travels

Try reading a book from back to front and you'll be left confused. You need a sense of direction; left to right, front to back. Neurons need this too to function correctly. Structural elements called microtubules have an important role to play in this. They have a plus end and a minus end. Plus ends preferentially grow towards neuronal projections called axons, while they're repelled from growing into dendrites, neuronal projections that grow in the opposite direction to axons. Researchers investigated how this process is regulated by studying two neuron types in fruit fly larvae, pictured using fluorescence microscopy. The protein kinesin-2 is already known to move cargo along microtubules towards their plus ends. Using genetic interference to reduce kinesin-2 levels, the team found microtubule plus ends strayed more into dendrites, as captured using live-cell imaging. Kinesin-2 is therefore also important in helping neurons maintain a sense of direction

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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