A new method for quantifying mitochondrial axonal transport

Mengmeng Chen, Yang Li*, Mengxue Yang, Xiaoping Chen, Yemeng Chen, Fan Yang, Sheng Lu, Shengyu Yao, Timothy Zhou, Jianghong Liu, Li Zhu, Sidan Du, Jane Y. Wu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Axonal transport of mitochondria is critical for neuronal survival and function. Automatically quantifying and analyzing mitochondrial movement in a large quantity remain challenging. Here, we report an efficient method for imaging and quantifying axonal mitochondrial transport using microfluidic-chamber-cultured neurons together with a newly developed analysis package named “MitoQuant”. This tool-kit consists of an automated program for tracking mitochondrial movement inside live neuronal axons and a transient-velocity analysis program for analyzing dynamic movement patterns of mitochondria. Using this method, we examined axonal mitochondrial movement both in cultured mammalian neurons and in motor neuron axons of Drosophila in vivo. In 3 different paradigms (temperature changes, drug treatment and genetic manipulation) that affect mitochondria, we have shown that this new method is highly efficient and sensitive for detecting changes in mitochondrial movement. The method significantly enhanced our ability to quantitatively analyze axonal mitochondrial movement and allowed us to detect dynamic changes in axonal mitochondrial transport that were not detected by traditional kymographic analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)804-819
Number of pages16
JournalProtein and Cell
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • FUS proteinopathy and mitochondrial transport defect
  • image processing and analysis
  • mitochondrial transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Drug Discovery
  • Cell Biology


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