We acquired molecular-resolution structures of the Golgi within its native cellular environment. Vitreous Chlamydomonas cells were thinned by cryo-focused ion beam milling and then visualized by cryo-electron tomography. These tomograms revealed structures within the Golgi cisternae that have not been seen before. Narrow trans-Golgi lumina were spanned by asymmetric membrane-associated protein arrays that had ∼6-nm lateral periodicity. Subtomogram averaging showed that the arrays may determine the narrow central spacing of the trans-Golgi cisternae through zipper-like interactions, thereby forcing cargo to the trans-Golgi periphery. Additionally, we observed dense granular aggregates within cisternae and intracisternal filament bundles associated with trans-Golgi buds. These native in situ structures provide new molecular insights into Golgi architecture and function.
Keywords: Chlamydomonas; Golgi; cryo-electron tomography; focused ion beam; glycosyltransferase.