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Genetics Home Reference: your guide to understanding genetic conditions     A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine®

DYN gene family

Reviewed January 2013

What are the DYN genes?

Genes in the DYN family provide instructions for making proteins that form a group (complex) called a cytoplasmic dynein. This complex is found in the fluid inside cells (cytoplasm) and is known as a cytoplasmic dynein complex. This complex is turned on (activated) by attaching (binding) to another complex called dynactin. This dynein-dynactin complex binds to various materials within cells. Using energy provided from molecules called ATP, the dynein-dynactin complex moves its bound material along a track-like system of small tubes called microtubules, similar to a conveyer belt. The dynein-dynactin complex is necessary for protein transport, positioning of cell compartments, mobility of structures within the cell, and many other cell processes. In nerve cells (neurons), the dynein-dynactin complex helps neighboring cells communicate by transporting sac-like structures called synaptic vesicles that contain chemical messengers. When synaptic vesicles are passed from one neuron to another, dynein transports the vesicle from the edge of the cell to the center where the chemical message is received.

The parts (subunits) of a cytoplasmic dynein complex are produced from 15 known genes. These subunits are classified by weight as heavy, intermediate, light intermediate, or light chains. Two heavy chain proteins bind together to form the core of the dynein complex. Combinations of intermediate, light intermediate, and light chains make up the rest of the complex.

Which genes are included in the DYN gene family?

The HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) provides an index of gene families ( and their member genes.

Genetics Home Reference summarizes the normal function and health implications of these members of the DYN gene family: DYNC1H1 and DYNC2H1.

What conditions are related to genes in the DYN gene family?

Genetics Home Reference includes these conditions related to genes in the DYN gene family:

  • asphyxiating thoracic dystrophy
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  • spinal muscular atrophy

Where can I find additional information about the DYN gene family?

You may find the following resources about the DYN gene family helpful.

  • Molecular Cell Biology (fourth edition, 2000): A General Model for Kinesin- and Dynein-Mediated Transport in a Typical Cell (figure) ( (NCBI Bookshelf)
  • Basic Neurochemistry (sixth edition, 1999): Cytoplasmic Dyneins May Have Multiple Roles in the Neuron ( (NCBI Bookshelf)
  • Madame Curie Bioscience: Summary of Cytoplasmic Dynein 1 and Dynactin Subunit Composition (table) ( (NCBI Bookshelf)
  • The Cell: A Molecular Approach (second edition, 2000): Organelle Transport and Intracellular Organization ( (NCBI Bookshelf)

What glossary definitions help with understanding the DYN gene family?

ATP ; cell ; cytoplasm ; neuron ; protein ; synaptic vesicles ; vesicle

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.


These sources were used to develop the Genetics Home Reference summary for the DYN gene family.

  • Sakakibara H, Oiwa K. Molecular organization and force-generating mechanism of dynein. FEBS J. 2011 Sep;278(17):2964-79. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2011.08253.x. Epub 2011 Aug 8. Review. (
  • Kardon JR, Vale RD. Regulators of the cytoplasmic dynein motor. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2009 Dec;10(12):854-65. doi: 10.1038/nrm2804. Review. (
  • Pfister KK, Fisher EM, Gibbons IR, Hays TS, Holzbaur EL, McIntosh JR, Porter ME, Schroer TA, Vaughan KT, Witman GB, King SM, Vallee RB. Cytoplasmic dynein nomenclature. J Cell Biol. 2005 Nov 7;171(3):411-3. Epub 2005 Oct 31. (
  • Pfister KK, Shah PR, Hummerich H, Russ A, Cotton J, Annuar AA, King SM, Fisher EM. Genetic analysis of the cytoplasmic dynein subunit families. PLoS Genet. 2006 Jan;2(1):e1. (


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? ( in the Handbook.

Reviewed: January 2013
Published: February 8, 2016