The distribution of membrane-bound organelles was studied in cultured hippocampal neurons after antisense oligonucleotide suppression of the kinesin-heavy chain (KHC). We observed reduced 3,3'-dihexyloxacarbocyanine iodide (DiOC6(3)) fluorescent staining in neurites and growth cones. In astrocytes, KHC suppression results in the disappearance of the DiOC6(3)-positive reticular network from the cell periphery, and a parallel accumulation of label within the cell center. On the other hand, mitochondria microtubules and microfilaments display a distribution that closely resembles that observed in control cells. KHC suppression of neurons and astrocytes completely inhibited the Brefeldin A-induced spreading and tubulation of the Golgi-associated structure enriched in mannose-6-phosphate receptors. In addition, KHC suppression prevents the low pH-induced anterograde redistribution of late endocytic structures. Taken collectively, these observations suggest that in living neurons, kinesin mediates the anterograde transport of tubulovesicular structures originated in the central vacuolar system (e.g., the endoplasmic reticulum) and that the regulation of kinesin-membrane interactions may be of key importance for determining the intracellular distribution of selected organelles.

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