Cargo crowding at actin-rich regions along axons causes local traffic jams

Parul Sood, Kausalya Murthy, Vinod Kumar, Michael L. Nonet, Gautam I. Menon, Sandhya P. Koushika

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Steady axonal cargo flow is central to the functioning of healthy neurons. However, a substantial fraction of cargo in axons remains stationary up to several minutes. We examine the transport of precursors of synaptic vesicles (pre-SVs), endosomes and mitochondria in Caenorhabditis elegans touch receptor neurons, showing that stationary cargo are predominantly present at actin-rich regions along the neuronal process. Stationary vesicles at actin-rich regions increase the propensity of moving vesicles to stall at the same location, resulting in traffic jams arising from physical crowding. Such local traffic jams at actin-rich regions are likely to be a general feature of axonal transport since they also occur in Drosophila neurons. Repeated touch stimulation of C. elegans reduces the density of stationary pre-SVs, indicating that these traffic jams can act as both sources and sinks of vesicles. This suggests that vesicles trapped in actin-rich regions are functional reservoirs that may contribute to maintaining robust cargo flow in the neuron. A video abstract of this article can be found at: Video S1; Video S2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-181
Number of pages16
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • actin
  • axonal transport
  • neuronal stimulation
  • physical crowding
  • precursors of synaptic vesicles
  • reservoirs
  • stationary cargo
  • stationary vesicles
  • touch receptor neurons
  • traffic jams


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