We used the accumulation of constitutively active kinesin motor domains as a measure of where kinesins translocate in developing neurons. Throughout development, truncated Kinesin-3 accumulates at the tips of all neurites. In contrast, Kinesin-1 selectively accumulates in only a subset of neurites. Before neurons become polarized, truncated Kinesin-1 accumulates transiently in a single neurite. Coincident with axon specification, truncated Kinesin-1 accumulates only in the emerging axon and no longer appears in any other neurite. The translocation of Kinesin-1 along a biochemically distinct track leading to the nascent axon could ensure the selective delivery of Kinesin-1 cargoes to the axon and hence contribute to its molecular specification. Imaging YFP-tagged truncated Kinesin-1 provides the most precise definition to date of when neuronal polarity first emerges and allows visualization of the molecular differentiation of the axon in real time.
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