To assay the detailed structural relationship between axonally transported vesicles and their substrate microtubules, vesicle transport was focally cold blocked in axoplasm that was extruded from the squid giant axon. A brief localized cold block concentrated anterogradely and retrogradely transported vesicles selectively on either the proximal or or distal side of the block. Normal movement of the concentrated vesicles was reactivated by rewarming the cold-blocked axoplasm. At the periphery of the axoplasm, moving vesicles were located on individual microtubules that had become separated from the other cytomatrix components. The presence of moving vesicles on isolated microtubules permitted the identification of the structural components required for vesicle transport along microtubules. The results show that 16-18-nm cross-bridges connect both anterogradely and retrogradely moving vesicles to their substrate microtubules. These observations demonstrate that cross-bridges are fundamental are fundamental components of vesicle transport along axonal microtubules. Thus, vesicle transport can now be included among those cell motile systems such as muscle and axonemes that are based on a cross-bridge-mediated mechanism.

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