Journal of cell science

Microtubule motors mediate endosomal sorting by maintaining functional domain organization.

PMID 23549789


Many microtubule motors have been shown to couple to endosomal membranes. These motors include dynein in addition to many different kinesin family members. Sorting nexins (SNXs) are central to the organization and function of endosomes. These proteins can actively shape endosomal membranes and couple directly or indirectly to the minus-end microtubule motor dynein. Motor proteins acting on endosomes drive their motility, dictate their morphology and affect cargo segregation. We have used well-characterized members of the SNX family to elucidate motor coupling using high-resolution light microscopy coupled with depletion of specific microtubule motors. Endosomal domains labelled with SNX1, SNX4 and SNX8 couple to discrete combinations of dynein and kinesin motors. These specific combinations govern the structure and motility of each SNX-coated membrane in addition to the segregation of distinct functional endosomal subdomains. Taken together, our data show that these key features of endosome dynamics are governed by the same set of opposing microtubule motors. Thus, microtubule motors help to define the mosaic layout of endosomes that underpins cargo sorting.