The organization and function of eukaryotic cells rely on the action of many different molecular motor proteins. Cytoplasmic dynein drives the movement of a wide range of cargoes towards the minus ends of microtubules, and these events are needed, not just at the single-cell level, but are vital for correct development. In the present paper, I review recent progress on understanding dynein's mechanochemistry, how it is regulated and how it binds to such a plethora of cargoes. The importance of a number of accessory factors in these processes is discussed.

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