Kresge Faculty Fellows

Kresge College Fellows are dedicated artists, teachers, and scholars drawn from every field of study at the University.
William M Saxton
  • Title
    • Professor Emeritus
  • Division Physical & Biological Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Molecular, Cell, & Developmental Biology Department
  • Affiliations Kresge College
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Sinsheimer Laboratories, 330
  • Office Hours Arranged
  • Mail Stop MCD Biology
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Biology; Cell Biology; Biomedical Sciences; Biophysics; Genetics; Molecular Biology; Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology; Neuroscience

Summary of Expertise

Intracellular protein machines and molecular mechanisms


Fluorescence Microscopy 

Biography, Education and Training


1975            B.S., Microbiology, University of Minnesota

1982            M.S., Biology, California State University, Northridge

1986            Ph.D., Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder



1990-97      Assistant Professor, Dept. of Biology, Indiana University

1990-97      Fellow of The Indiana Molecular Biology Institute

1997-03      Associate Professor, Dept. of Biology, , Indiana University

1997-07      Senior Fellow of The Indiana Molecular Biology Institute 

2003-07      Professor, Dept. of Biology, Indiana University


2007-          Professor, Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology, University of California Santa Cruz

2016-19       Department Chair, Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology, University of California Santa Cruz

2019-           Professor Emeritus, Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology, University of California Santa Cruz



Honors, Awards and Grants

1991-96           NIH R01 GM46295:  Mechanisms and Functions of Subcellular motility, $798,792 (D+I).

1994                Co-Investigator, NIH Equipment Grant for transmission electron microscope,  $100,000 (D).

1994-99           American Heart Association Established Investigatorship:  Functions and Mechanisms of Intracellular Motility,  $336,055 (D).

1995                Co-Investigator, I. U. Shared Equipment Grant, (Principle Investigator: R. Raff, Institute for Molecular and Cellular Biology),  $100,000 (D).

1996-00           NIH R01 GM46295.  Mechanisms and Functions of Subcellular motility, $931,650 (D+I).

1997                NIH-Shared Instrumentation Grant for a Scanning Electron Microscope.  $194,000 (D).

1999-04           NIH GM58811. Cytoplasmic Motility In Early Development. $886,992 (D+I)

2000-06           NIH R01 GM46295.  Mechanisms and Functions of Subcellular Motility.  $1,134,616 (D+I)

2001-03           INGEN (54-246-02), Bloomington INGEN Light Microscopy Core Facilities.  $334,000 (D)

2004-05           Co-PI NIH Concept Development Award.  The Biology of Mitotic Motors; A Nanomedicine Consortium. $50,000 (D)

2005-06           MetaCYT Award for Mechanisms of Chromosome and Spindle Pole Movements in Mitosis.  $67,532 (D)

2006                IU COAS FRSP Award for An ultra-sensitive, high-speed spinning disk microscope.  $104,856 (D)

2006-07           MetaCYT Award for Mechanisms of Chromosome and Spindle Pole Movements in Mitosis.  $67,250 (D)

2006-11           NIH R01 GM46295.  Mechanisms and Functions of Subcellular Motility.  $1,242,076 (D+I)

2010-12           Co-PI,  HRD-1026880  California LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate.  $987,000 (D+I)

2013-15           C0-PI,  NIH R03 NS078554. A system for in vivo structure-function analysis of kinesin in neurodegeneration. $152,583 (D+I)

2013-18           NIH R01 GM46295.  Mechanisms and Functions of Subcellular Motility.  $1,242,076 (D+I)

2015-16           NIH Aministrative Supplement for GM46295.  Spinning Disk Confocal Microscope.  $87,144 (D) 


Selected Publications

Meyer, J.T., P.M. Thompson, R. Behringer, R.C. Steiner, W.M. Saxton and S.B. Oppenheimer.  1983.  Protease activity associated with loss of adhesiveness in mouse teratocarcinoma.  Exp. Cell Res.


Leslie, R.J., W.M. Saxton, T.J. Mitchison, B. Neighbors, E.D. Salmon and J.R. McIntosh.  1984.  Assembly properties of fluorescein labeled tubulin in vitro before and after fluorescence bleaching.  
J. Cell Biol. 99:2146-2156.


Salmon, E.D., W.M. Saxton, R.J. Leslie, M.L. Karow, and J.R. McIntosh.  1984.  Diffusion coefficient of fluorescein-labeled tubulin in the cytoplasm of embryonic cells of a sea urchin:  Measurement by video image processing of fluorescence redistribution after photobleaching.  J. Cell Biol. 99:2157-2164.


Salmon, E.D., R.J. Leslie, W.M. Saxton, M.L. Karow and J.R. McIntosh.  1984.  Spindle microtubule dynamics in sea urchin embryos.  Analysis using a fluorescein-labeled tubulin and measurements of fluorescence redistribution after laser photobleaching.  J. Cell Biol. 99:2165-2174.


Saxton, W.M., D.L. Stemple, R.J. Leslie, E.D. Salmon and J.R. McIntosh.  1984.  Tubulin dynamics in cultured mammalian cells.  J. Cell Biol. 99:2175-2186.


McIntosh, J.R., W.M. Saxton, D.L. Stemple, R.J. Leslie, and M.J. Welsh.  1985.  Dynamics of tubulin and calmodulin in the mammalian mitotic spindle.  Ann. NY Acad. Sci. 466:566-579.


Saxton, W.M. and J.R. McIntosh.  1987.  Interzone microtubule behavior in late anaphase and telophase spindles.  J. Cell Biol. 105:875-886.


Saxton, W.M., M.E. Porter, S.A. Cohn, J.M. Scholey, E.C. Raff and J.R. McIntosh.  1988.  Drosophila kinesin:  Characterization of microtubule motility and ATPase.  PNAS 85:1109-1113.


Yang, J., W.M. Saxton and L.S.B. Goldstein.  1988.  Isolation and characterization of the gene encoding the heavy chain of Drosophila kinesin.  PNAS 85:1864-1868.


Olmsted, J.B., D.L. Stemple, W.M. Saxton, B.W. Neighbors and J.R. McIntosh.  1989.  Cell cycle-dependent changes in the dynamics of MAP 2 and MAP 4 in cultured cells.  J. Cell Biol. 109:211-223.


Yang, J., W.M. Saxton, M. deCuevas, E.C. Raff and L.S.B. Goldstein.  1990.  Evidence that the head of kinesin is sufficient for force generation and motility in vitro.  Science 249:42-47.


Saxton, W.M., J. Hicks, L.S.B. Goldstein and E.C. Raff.  1991.  Kinesin heavy chain is essential for viability and neuromuscular functions in Drosophila but mutants show no defects in mitosis.  Cell 64:1093-1102.


Gho, M., K. McDonald, B. Ganetzky, and W.M. Saxton.  1992.  Effects of kinesin mutations on neuronal functions.  Science 258:313-316.


Cohn, S., W.M. Saxton, J. Lye and J. Scholey.  1993.  Analyzing microtubule motors in real time.  Methods in Cell Biology 39:75-88.


Saxton, W.M.  1994.  Isolation and analysis of microtubule motor proteins.  Methods in Cell Biology 44:279-288.


Cole, D. G., K.B. Sheehan, W.M. Saxton, and J.M. Scholey. 1994. A"slow" heterotetrameric kinesin-related motor protein purified from Drosophila embryos.  J. Biol. Chem. 269:22913-22916.


Hurd, D.D., M. Stern, and W.M. Saxton.  1996.  Mutation of the axonal transport motor kinesin enhances paralytic and suppresses Shaker in Drosophila.  Genetics 142:195-204.


Kashina, A., R. Baskin, D. Cole, W.M. Saxton, and J. Scholey. 1996. A bipolar kinesin.  Nature 379: 270-272.


Hurd, D.D. and W.M. Saxton. 1996.  Disruption of fast axonal transport by kinesin mutations causes motor neuron disease phenotypes in Drosophila.  Genetics 144:1075-1085.


Kashina, A.S.,  J.M. Scholey, J.S. Leszyk, and W.M. Saxton. 1996.  KLP61F/KRP130 is a bipolar mitotic motor.  Nature 384:225.


Powers, J., O. Bossinger, D.J. Rose, S. Strome, and W.M. Saxton. 1998.  A nematode kinesin required for cleavage furrow advancement.  Curr. Biol. 8:1133-1136.


Saxton, W.M..  A special delivery service.  1999.  Curr. Biol. 9:293-295.


Martin, M.E., D.D. Hurd and W.M. Saxton.  1999.  Kinesins in the Nervous System.  Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 56:200-216.


Brendza, K.M., D.J. Rose, S.P. Gilbert, and W.M. Saxton.  1999.  Lethal kinesin mutations reveal amino acids important for ATPase activation and structural coupling.  J. Biol. Chem. 274:31506-31514.


Martin, M.E., S.J. Iyadurai, A. Gassman, J. G. Gindhart, Jr., T.S. Hays, and W.M. Saxton.  1999.  Cytoplasmic Dynein, the Dynactin Complex, and Kinesin Are Interdependent and Essential for Fast Axonal Transport.  Mol. Biol. Cell10:3717-3728.


Brendza, R.P., K.B. Sheehan, F.R. Turner, and W.M. Saxton.  2000.  Clonal Tests of Conventional Kinesin Function During Cell Proliferation and Differentiation.  Mol. Biol. Cell 11:1329-1343.


Brendza, K.M., C. A. Sontag, W.M. Saxton, and S.P. Gilbert.  2000.  A kinesin mutation Uncouples motor domains and desensitizes the gamma-phosphate sensor.  Journal Biol. Chem. 275:22187-22195.


Brendza, R.P., L.R. Serbus, J.B. Duffy, and W.M. Saxton.  2000.  A Function for Kinesin I in the Posterior Transport of oskar mRNA and Staufen Protein.  Science 289:2120-2122


Strome, S., J. Powers, M. Dunn, K. Reese, G. Seydoux, and W. Saxton.  2001.  Spindle Dynamics and the Role of γ-tubulin in Early C. elegans Embryos.  Mol. Biol. Cell. 12:1751-1764.


Yager, J., S. Richards, D.S. Hekmat-Scafe, D.D. Hurd, V. Sundaresan, D.R. Caprette, W.M. Saxton, J.R. Carlson, and M. Stern.  2001.  Control of Drosophila perineurial glial growth by interacting neurotransmitter-mediated signaling pathways.  PNAS 98:10445-10450.


Saxton, W.M..  2001.  Microtubules, motors, and mRNA localization mechanisms:  watching fluorescent messages move. Cell 107:707-710.


Brendza, R.P., L.R. Serbus, W.M. Saxton, and J.B. Duffy.  2002.  Posterior localization of dynein and dorsal-ventral axis formation depend on kinesin in Drosophila oocytes. Curr. Biol. 12:1541-1545.


Segbert, C., Barkus, R., Powers, J., Strome, S., Saxton, W. M., Bossinger, O.  2003.  KLP-18, a Klp2 kinesin, is required for assembly of acentrosomal meiotic spindles in Caenorhabditis elegans.  Mol. Biol. Cell 14:4458-4469.


Li, S.,  C. M. Armstrong, N. Bertin, H. Ge1, S. Milstein, M. Boxem, P.O. Vidalain, J. Han, A. Chesneau1, T. Hao, D.S. Goldberg, N. Li, M. Martinez, J.-F. Rual1, P. Lamesch, L. Xu, M. Tewari, S.L. Wong, L.V. Zhang, G.F. Berriz, L. Jacotot, P. Vaglio, J. Reboul, T. Hirozane-Kishikawa, Q. Li, H.W. Gabel, A. Elewa, B. Baumgartner, D.J. Rose, H. Yu, S. Bosak, R. Sequerra, A. Fraser, S.E. Mango, W.M. Saxton, S. Strome, S. Heuvel, F.Piano, J. Vandenhaute, C. Sardet, M. Gerstein, L. Doucette-Stamm, K.C. Gunsalus, J.W. Harper, M.E. Cusick, F.P. Roth, D.E. Hill, M. Vidal.  2004.  A Map of the Interactome Network of the Metazoan C. elegans.  Science 303:540-543.


Klumpp, L.M., K.M. Brendza, J.E. Gatial, A. Hoenger, W.M. Saxton, and S.P. Gilbert. 2004.  Microtubule-kinesin interface mutants reveal a site critical for communication.  Biochemistry 43:


Lawrence, C.J., R.K. Dawe, KR. Christie, D.W. Cleveland, S.C. Dawson, S.A. Endow, L.S.B. Goldstein, H.V. Goodson, N. Hirokawa, J. Howard, R.L. Malmberg, J.R. McIntosh, T.J. Mitchison, Okada, Y. , A.S.N. Reddy, W.M. Saxton, M. Schliwa, J.M. Scholey, R.D. Vale, C.E. Walczak, H. Miki, and L. Wordeman.  2004. A Standardized Kinesin Nomenclature.  J. Cell Biol. 167:19-22


Schmidt, D., D.J. Rose, W.M. Saxton, and S. Strome.  2005.  Functional Analysis of Cytoplasmic Dynein Heavy Chain in C. elegans With Fast-Acting Temperature-Sensitive Mutations.  Mol. Biol. Cell 16:1200-1212.


Martin, M.A., S.M. Ahern-Djamali, F.M. Hoffmann, and W.M. Saxton.  2005.  Abl tyrosine kinase and its substrate Ena/VASP have functional interactions with kinesin-1.  Mol. Biol. Cell 16:4225-4230.


Serbus, L.R., B.J. Cha, W. Theurkauf, and W.M. Saxton.  2005.  Dynein and the actin cytoskeleton control kinesin-driven cytoplasmic streaming in Drosophila oocytes.  Development 132:3743-3752.


Hollenbeck, P.J. and W.M. Saxton.  2005.  The axonal transport of mitochondria.  J. Cell Sci. 18:


Horiuchi, D.,  R.V. Barkus, A.D. Pilling, A. Gassman, and W.M. Saxton.  2005.  APLIP1, a Kinesin-Binding JNK Scaffold Protein, Influences the Axonal Transport of Both Vesicles and Transport of Mitochondria in Drosophila.   Curr. Biol. 15:2137-2141.


Pilling, A., D Horiuchi, C.M. Lively and W. M. Saxton.  2006.  Kinesin-1 and dynein are the primary motors for fast transport of mitochondria in Drosophila motor axons.  Mol. Biol. Cell 17:2057-2068.


Saunders, A.M., J. Powers, S. Strome, and W.M. Saxton.  2007.  Anaphase spindle elongation:  A molecular motor acts as a brake.  Curr. Biol. 17:r453-455.


Horiuchi, D., C.A. Collins, P. Bhat, R.V. Barkus,  A. DiAntonio, and W.M. Saxton.  2007.  Control of a kinesin-cargo linkage mechanism by JNK pathway kinases. Curr. Biol. 17:1313-1317.


Barkus, R.V., O. Klyachko, D. Horiuchi, B.J. Dickson, and W.M. Saxton.  2008.  Identification of an axonal kinesin-3 motor for fast anterograde vesicle transport that facilitates retrograde transport of neuropeptides.  Mol. Biol. Cell19:274-283.


Moua, P., D. Fullerton, L. Serbus, R Warrior, and W.M. Saxton.  2011.  Kinesin-1 tail autoregulation and microtubule-binding regions function in saltatory transport but not ooplasmic streaming.  Development 138:1087-1092.


Saxton, W.M., and P.J. Hollenbeck. 2012.  The axonal transport of mitochondria.  J. Cell Sci. 125:2095-2104.


Liu, S., Sawada, T., Lee, S., Yu, W., Silverio, G., Alapatt, P., Millan, I., Shen, A., Saxton, W., Kanao, T., Takahashi, R., Hattori, N., Imai, Y., and Lu, B. 2012. Parkinson's disease-associated kinase PINK1 regulates Miro protein level and axonal transport of mitochondria. PLoS Genet 8, e1002537 (1-13).


J.M. Deutsch, M.E. Brunner, and W. M. Saxton. 2011.  The mechanics of a microscopic mixer: microtubules and cytoplasmic streaming in Drosophila oocytes".  arXiv:1101.2225v1 [q-bio.SC]. 


J.M. Deutsch, M.E. Brunner, and W. M. Saxton. 2011.  Analysis of microtubule motion due to drag from kinesin walkers.  arXiv:1102.5141v1 [q-bio.BM].


Djagaeva, I., D.J. Rose, A. Lim, C.E. Venter, K.M. Brendza, P. Moua, and W.M. Saxton. 2012.  Three routes to suppression of the neurodegenerative phenotypes caused by kinesin heavy chain mutations.  Genetics 192:173-183.


Monteith, C.M., M.E. Brunner, J.M. Deutsch, and W.M. Saxton.  2016.  A Mechanism for Cytoplasmic Streaming: Kinesin-Driven Alignment of Microtubules and Fast Fluid Flows.  Biophysical Journal 110: 2053–2065.


Lim, A., A. Rechtsteiner, and W. M. Saxton.  2017.  Two kinesins drive anterograde neuropeptide transport.  Mol. Biol. Cell 28: 3542-3553.


Saxton, W.M., Lim, A., Djagaeva, I.  2022. Dissection and Direct Imaging of Axonal Transport in Drosophila Segmental Nerves. In: Axonal Transport. Methods in Molecular Biology, vol 2431. Humana, New York, NY.