Microtubules pp 322-353 | Cite as

Neurotubules and Neuroplasmic Transport

  • Pierre Dustin


The MT of neurons, or “neurotubules”, were observed in 1956 by Palay [134] and are a constituent of all nerve cells, in invertebrates and vertebrates. As described in Chapter 2, brain has become one of the favorite sources of tubulin for biochemical studies. Most of the problems associated with the function of MT are apparent in the study of nerve cells: their role in maintaining the shape of the long cytoplasmic extensions, axons and dendrites, and their relations with transport, along all neurites, of various metabolites, organelles, and secretory granules. The importance of this transport depends on the fact that the cell body, with its metabolic machinery and its syntheses, represents only a small fraction of the cytoplasmic volume, particularly in cells with axones which may reach several meters in length. Along axons and dendrites, there is a continuous movement, the complexity of which will later be apparent. It is sufficient to say that besides the slow flow of cytoplasm and organelles such as the MT themselves, several rates of flow exist, and some are most rapid, sometimes covering several hundred mm/day8. Moreover, these different movements are not all in the same direction, and retrograde flow is observed in many neurons. As most of these movements are active, it is better to use the word “transport”, and as they take place in dendrites as well as in axons (where they have been mostly studied), the expression “neuroplasmic transport” will be used here.


Nerve Growth Factor Sciatic Nerve Synaptic Vesicle Secretory Granule Axonal Transport 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pierre Dustin
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoires d’Anatomie Pathologique et de Microscopie ElectroniqueUniversité Libre de BruxellesBruxellesBelgium

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