Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Endomembrane system


The Golgi apparatus has attracted intense attentions due to its fascinating morphology and vital role as the pivot of cellular secretory pathway since its discovery. However, its complex structure at the molecular level remains elusive due to limited approaches. In this study, the structure of Golgi apparatus, including the Golgi stack, cisternal structure, relevant tubules and vesicles, were directly visualized by high-resolution atomic force microscope. We imaged both sides of Golgi apparatus membranes and revealed that the outer leaflet of Golgi membranes is relatively smooth while the inner membrane leaflet is rough and covered by dense proteins. With the treatment of methyl-β-cyclodextrin and Triton X-100, we confirmed the existence of lipid rafts in Golgi apparatus membrane, which are mostly in the size of 20 nm -200 nm and appear irregular in shape. Our results may be of significance to reveal the structure-function relationship of the Golgi complex and pave the way for visualizing the endomembrane system in mammalian cells at the molecular level.

Concepts: Cell, Cell membrane, Golgi apparatus, Organelle, Endoplasmic reticulum, Protein targeting, Endomembrane system, Secretory pathway


The Golgi apparatus is a central meeting point for the endocytic and exocytic systems in eukaryotic cells, and the organelle’s dysfunction results in human disease. Its characteristic morphology of multiple differentiated compartments organized into stacked flattened cisternae is one of the most recognizable features of modern eukaryotic cells, and yet how this is maintained is not well understood. The Golgi is also an ancient aspect of eukaryotes, but the extent and nature of its complexity in the ancestor of eukaryotes is unclear. Various proteins have roles in organizing the Golgi, chief among them being the golgins.

Concepts: DNA, Cell nucleus, Cell, Eukaryote, Golgi apparatus, Organelle, Endoplasmic reticulum, Endomembrane system


As the most abundant biopolymer on Earth, cellulose is a key structural component of the plant cell wall. Cellulose is produced at the plasma membrane by cellulose synthase (CesA) complexes (CSCs), which are assembled in the endomembrane system and trafficked to the plasma membrane. While several proteins that affect CesA activity have been identified, components that regulate CSC assembly and trafficking remain unknown. Here we show that STELLO1 and 2 are Golgi-localized proteins that can interact with CesAs and control cellulose quantity. In the absence of STELLO function, the spatial distribution within the Golgi, secretion and activity of the CSCs are impaired indicating a central role of the STELLO proteins in CSC assembly. Point mutations in the predicted catalytic domains of the STELLO proteins indicate that they are glycosyltransferases facing the Golgi lumen. Hence, we have uncovered proteins that regulate CSC assembly in the plant Golgi apparatus.

Concepts: Cell, Bacteria, Cell membrane, Golgi apparatus, Endoplasmic reticulum, Cell wall, Cellulose, Endomembrane system


The endomembrane system consists of the secretory and endocytic pathways, which communicate by transport to and from the trans-Golgi network (TGN). In mammalian cells, the endocytic pathway includes early, late, and recycling endosomes. In budding yeast, different types of endosomes have been described, but the organization of the endocytic pathway has remained unclear. We performed a spatial and temporal analysis of yeast endosomal markers and endocytic cargoes. Our results indicate that the yeast TGN also serves as an early and recycling endosome. In addition, as previously described, yeast contains a late or prevacuolar endosome (PVE). Endocytic cargoes localize to the TGN shortly after internalization, and manipulations that perturb export from the TGN can slow the passage of endocytic cargoes to the PVE. Yeast apparently lacks a distinct early endosome. Thus, yeast has a simple endocytic pathway that may reflect the ancestral organization of the endomembrane system.

Concepts: Golgi apparatus, Hypha, Yeast, Endosome, Endomembrane system, Receptor-mediated endocytosis, Exosome, Mannose 6-phosphate receptor


In this Guest Editorial, Heidi McBride introduces our special issue on membranes with a discussion of the contribution of mitochondria to the emergence of the endomembrane system.

Concepts: Eukaryote, Endomembrane system


The Golgi complex occupies a strategic position in the endomembrane system and acts not only as a key trafficking and sorting station and a vital biosynthetic center for glycoproteins and lipids, but also as an active signaling hub. As such, the Golgi complex participates in the establishment and maintenance of cell compartmentalization and in general, cell processes such as cell growth and apoptosis. The different functions of the Golgi complex are executed by composite molecular machineries that have been exhaustively dissected over the last three decades. These machineries can become dysfunctional as a result of mutations in the respective encoding genes or may be hijacked by infectious agents or misregulated in the course of multifactorial diseases such as neurodegeneration and cancer. Small molecules targeting components of these machineries have been instrumental in dissecting their functions in in vitro studies and some of them have been developed or are currently under development for clinical use.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Cell, Cancer, Disease, Infectious disease, Golgi apparatus, Endomembrane system


The identity of organelles in the endomembrane system of any eukaryotic cell critically depends on the correctly localized Rab GTPase, which binds effectors and thus promotes membrane remodeling or fusion. However, it is still unresolved which factors are required and therefore define the localization of the correct fusion machinery. Using SNARE-decorated proteoliposomes that cannot fuse on their own, we now demonstrate that full fusion activity can be achieved by just four soluble factors: a soluble SNARE (V am7), a guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF, Mon1-Ccz1), a Rab- GDP dissociation inhibitor (GDI) complex (prenylated Ypt7:GDI), and a Rab effector complex (HOPS). Our findings reveal that the GEF Mon1-Ccz1 is necessary and sufficient for stabilizing prenylated Ypt7 on membranes. HOPS binding to Ypt7-GTP then drives SNARE-mediated fusion, which is fully GTP- dependent. We conclude that an entire fusion cascade can be controlled by a GEF.

Concepts: DNA, Cell, Eukaryote, Golgi apparatus, Organelle, Guanine nucleotide exchange factor, Necessary and sufficient condition, Endomembrane system


AP-4 is a member of the heterotetrameric adaptor protein (AP) complex family involved in protein sorting in the endomembrane system of eukaryotic cells. Interest in AP-4 has recently risen with the discovery that mutations in any of its four subunits cause a form of hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP) with intellectual disability. The critical sorting events mediated by AP-4 and the pathogenesis of AP-4 deficiency, however, remain poorly understood. Here we report the identification of ATG9A, the only multispanning membrane component of the core autophagy machinery, as a specific AP-4 cargo. AP-4 promotes signal-mediated export of ATG9A from the trans-Golgi network to the peripheral cytoplasm, contributing to lipidation of the autophagy protein LC3B and maturation of preautophagosomal structures. These findings implicate AP-4 as a regulator of autophagy and altered autophagy as a possible defect in AP-4-deficient HSP.

Concepts: DNA, Cell, Eukaryote, Golgi apparatus, Organelle, Endoplasmic reticulum, Cytoplasm, Endomembrane system


GTP-ases of the Rab family (about 70 in human) are key regulators of intracellular transport and membrane trafficking in eukaryotic cells. Remarkably, almost one third associate with membranes of the Golgi complex and TGN (trans-Golgi network). Through interactions with a variety of effectors that include molecular motors, tethering complexes, scaffolding proteins and lipid kinases, they play an important role in maintaining Golgi architecture.

Concepts: DNA, Cell, Cell membrane, Golgi apparatus, Organelle, Endoplasmic reticulum, Lysosome, Endomembrane system


Approximately one-third of all eukaryotic proteins are delivered to their destination by trafficking within the endomembrane system. Such cargo proteins are incorporated into forming membrane vesicles on donor compartments and delivered to acceptor compartments by vesicle fusion. How cargo proteins are sorted into forming vesicles is still largely unknown. Here we review the roles of small GTPases of the ARF/SAR1 family, their regulators designated ARF guanine-nucleotide exchange factors (ARF-GEFs) and ARF GTPase-activating proteins (ARF-GAPs) as well as coat protein complexes during membrane vesicle formation. Although conserved across eukaryotes, these four functional groups of proteins display plant-specific modifications in composition, structure and function.

Concepts: Cell, Archaea, Eukaryote, Cytosol, Endoplasmic reticulum, Prokaryote, Membrane biology, Endomembrane system