Microtubules and the organization of the Golgi complex

Exp Cell Res. 1985 Jul;159(1):1-16. doi: 10.1016/s0014-4827(85)80032-x.


Electron microscopic and cytochemical studies indicate that microtubules play an important role in the organization of the Golgi complex in mammalian cells. During interphase microtubules form a radiating pattern in the cytoplasm, originating from the pericentriolar region (microtubule-organizing centre). The stacks of Golgi cisternae and the associated secretory vesicles and lysosomes are arranged in a circumscribed juxtanuclear area, usually centered around the centrioles, and show a defined orientation in relation to the rough endoplasmic reticulum. Exposure of cells to drugs such as colchicine, vinblastine and nocodazole leads to disassembly of microtubules and disorganization of the Golgi complex, most typically a dispersion of its stacks of cisternae throughout the cytoplasm. These alterations are accompanied by disturbances in the intracellular transport, processing and release of secretory products as well as inhibition of endocytosis. The observations suggest that microtubules are partly responsible for the maintenance and functioning of the Golgi complex, possibly by arranging its stacks of cisternae three-dimensionally within the cell and in relation to other organelles and ensuring a normal flow of material into and away from them. During mitosis, microtubules disassemble (prophase) and a mitotic spindle is built up (metaphase) to take care of the subsequent separation of the chromosomes (anaphase). The breaking up of the microtubular cytoskeleton is followed by vesiculation of the rough endoplasmic reticulum and partial atrophy, as well as dispersion of the stacks of Golgi cisternae. After completion of the nuclear division (telophase), the radiating microtubule pattern is re-established and the rough endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi complex resume their normal interphase structure. This sequence of events is believed to fulfil the double function to provide tubulin units and space for construction of the mitotic spindle and to guarantee an approximately equal distribution of the rough endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi complex on the two daughter cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chick Embryo
  • Colchicine / pharmacology
  • Connective Tissue / metabolism
  • Endocrine Glands / metabolism
  • Endocytosis
  • Exocrine Glands / metabolism
  • Exocytosis
  • Golgi Apparatus / physiology*
  • Golgi Apparatus / ultrastructure
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microtubules / physiology*
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure
  • Mitosis
  • Neurons / physiology


  • Insulin
  • Colchicine