This paper addresses the question of whether microtubule-directed transport of vesicular organelles depends on the presence of a pool of cytosolic factors, including soluble motor proteins and accessory factors. Earlier studies with squid axon organelles (Schroer et al., 1988) suggested that the presence of cytosol induces a > 20-fold increase in the number of organelles moving per unit time on microtubules in vitro. These earlier studies, however, did not consider that cytosol might nonspecifically increase the numbers of moving organelles, i.e., by blocking adsorption of organelles to the coverglass. Here we report that treatment of the coverglass with casein, in the absence of cytosol, blocks adsorption of organelles to the coverglass and results in vigorous movement of vesicular organelles in the complete absence of soluble proteins. This technical improvement makes it possible, for the first time, to perform quantitative studies of organelle movement in the absence of cytosol. These new studies show that organelle movement activity (numbers of moving organelles/min/micron microtubule) of unextracted organelles is not increased by cytosol. Unextracted organelles move in single directions, approximately two thirds toward the plus-end and one third toward the minus-end of microtubules. Extraction of organelles with 600 mM KI completely inhibits minus-end, but not plus-end directed organelle movement. Upon addition of cytosol, minus-end directed movement of KI organelles is restored, while plus--end directed movement is unaffected. Biochemical studies indicate that KI-extracted organelles attach to microtubules in the presence of AMP-PNP and copurify with tightly bound kinesin. The bound kinesin is not extracted from organelles by 1 M KI, 1 M NaCl or carbonate (pH 11.3). These results suggest that kinesin is irreversibly bound to organelles that move to the plus-end of microtubules and that the presence of soluble kinesin and accessory factors is not required for movement of plus-end organelles in squid axons.

This content is only available as a PDF.