The kinesin motor KIF3A is a component of the presynaptic ribbon in vertebrate photoreceptors

Virgil Muresan, Asya Lyass, Bruce J. Schnapp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


Kinesin motors are presumed to transport various membrane compartments within neurons, but their specific in vivo functions, cargoes, and expression patterns in the brain are unclear. We have investigated the distribution of KIF3A, a member of the heteromeric family of kinesins, in the vertebrate retina. We find KIF3A at two distinct sites within photoreceptors: at the basal body of the connecting cilium axoneme and at the synaptic ribbon. Immunoelectron microscopy of the photoreceptor ribbon synapse shows KIF3A to be concentrated both at the ribbon matrix and on vesicles docked at the ribbon, a result that is consistent with the presence of both detergent- extractable and resistant KIF3A fractions at these synapses. KIF3A is also present in the inner plexiform layer, again at presynaptic ribbons. These findings suggest that within a single cell, the photoreceptor, one kinesin polypeptide, KIF3A, can serve two distinct functions, one specific for ribbon synapses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1027-1037
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Bipolar cell
  • Connecting cilium axoneme
  • Intracellular traffic
  • Kinesin-related motor KIF3A
  • Photoreceptor cell
  • Retina
  • Ribbon synapse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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