Specificity of cytoplasmic dynein subunits in discrete membrane-trafficking steps

K.J Palmer, H Hughes, D.J Stephens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)


The cytoplasmic dynein motor complex is known to exist in multiple forms, but few specific functions have been assigned to individual subunits. A key limitation in the analysis of dynein in intact mammalian cells has been the reliance on gross perturbation of dynein function, e.g., inhibitory antibodies, depolymerization of the entire microtubule network, or the use of expression of dominant negative proteins that inhibit dynein indirectly. Here, we have used RNAi and automated image analysis to define roles for dynein subunits in distinct membrane-trafficking processes. Depletion of a specific subset of dynein subunits, notably LIC1 (DYNC1LI1) but not LIC2 (DYNC1LI2), recapitulates a direct block of ER export, revealing that dynein is required to maintain the steady-state composition of the Golgi, through ongoing ER-to-Golgi transport. Suppression of LIC2 but not of LIC1 results in a defect in recycling endosome distribution and cytokinesis. Biochemical analyses also define the role of each subunit in stabilization of the dynein complex; notably, suppression of DHC1 or IC2 results in concomitant loss of Tctex1. Our data demonstrate that LIC1 and LIC2 define distinct dynein complexes that function at the Golgi versus recycling endosomes, respectively, suggesting that functional populations of dynein mediate discrete intracellular trafficking pathways.
Translated title of the contributionSpecificity of cytoplasmic dynein subunits in discrete membrane-trafficking steps
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2885 - 2899
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Biology of the Cell
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009

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