We have identified two slowly moving groups of axonally transported proteins in guinea pig retinal ganglion cell axons (4). The slowest group of proteins, designated slow component a (SCa), has a transport rate of 0.25 mm/d and consists of tubulin and neurofilament protein. The other slowly transported group of proteins, designated slow components b (SCb), has a transport rate of 2-3 mm/d and consists of many polypeptides, one of which is actin (4). Our analyses of the transport kinetics of the individual polypeptides of SCa and SCb indicate that (a) the polypeptides of SCa are transported coherently in the optic axons, (b) the polypeptides of SCb are also transported coherently but completely separately from the SCa polypeptides, and (c) the polypeptides of SCa differ completely from those comprising SCb. We relate these results to our general hypothesis that slow axonal transport represents the movements of structural complexes of proteins. Furthermore, it is proposed that SCa corresponds to the microtubule-neurofilament network, and that SCb represents the transport of the microfilament network together with the proteins complexed with microfilaments.

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