The Croonian Lecture 1999. Intracellular membrane traffic: getting proteins sorted

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 1999 Aug 29;354(1388):1471-8. doi: 10.1098/rstb.1999.0491.


The secretory and endocytic pathways within higher cells consist of multiple membrane-bound compartments, each with a characteristic composition, through which proteins move on their way to or from the cell surface. Sorting of proteins within this system is achieved by their selective incorporation into budding vesicles and the specific fusion of these with an appropriate target membrane. Cytosolic coat proteins help to select vesicle contents, while fusion is mediated by membrane proteins termed SNAREs present in both vesicles and target membranes. SNAREs are not the sole determinants of target specificity, but they lie at the heart of the fusion process. The complete set of SNAREs is known in yeast, and analysis of their locations, interactions and functions in vivo gives a comprehensive picture of the traffic routes and the ways in which organelles such as the Golgi apparatus are formed. The principles of protein and lipid sorting revealed by this analysis are likely to apply to a wide variety of eukaryotic cells.

Publication types

  • Lecture
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases*
  • Biological Transport
  • Biomarkers
  • Endocytosis
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • Golgi Apparatus / metabolism*
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism*
  • Membrane Fusion
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Qa-SNARE Proteins
  • SNARE Proteins
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins*
  • Synaptosomal-Associated Protein 25
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins*


  • Biomarkers
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Qa-SNARE Proteins
  • SNARE Proteins
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Sed5 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Synaptosomal-Associated Protein 25
  • TLG2 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Vesicular Transport Proteins
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases
  • SEC18 protein, S cerevisiae