The kinesins constitute a large family of microtubule-dependent motor proteins which are responsible for the distribution of numerous organelles, vesicles and macromolecular complexes throughout the cell. Individual kinesin members play crucial roles in cell division, intracellular transport and membrane trafficking events including endocytosis and transcytosis. Members of the heterotrimeric kinesin II family of microtubule associated motors generally contain two different motor subunits from the KIF3 family, which includes KIF3A, B and C. KIF3 isoforms mediate anterograde transport of membrane bound organelles in neurons and melanosomes, transport between the endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi, and transport of protein complexes within cilia and flagella required for their morphogenesis. KIF3A may influence neurogenesis at the level of embryonic cellular events, where the asymmetry of the genetic control circuit controlling left-right (L-R) axis determination is defined. Loss of KIF3A function in mice photoreceptors causes apoptotic cell death, suggesting that kinesin II mediated transport is required for proper cell fate.
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