Bidirectional cargo transport: Moving beyond tug of war

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292 Scopus citations


Vesicles, organelles and other intracellular cargo are transported by kinesin and dynein motors, which move in opposite directions along microtubules. This bidirectional cargo movement is frequently described as a 'tug of war' between oppositely directed molecular motors attached to the same cargo. However, although many experimental and modelling studies support the tug-of-war paradigm, numerous knockout and inhibition studies in various systems have found that inhibiting one motor leads to diminished motility in both directions, which is a 'paradox of co-dependence' that challenges the paradigm. In an effort to resolve this paradox, three classes of bidirectional transport models-microtubule tethering, mechanical activation and steric disinhibition-are proposed, and a general mathematical modelling framework for bidirectional cargo transport is put forward to guide future experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-628
Number of pages14
JournalNature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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