Role of microtubules in the organization of the Golgi complex

Exp Cell Res. 1999 Feb 1;246(2):263-79. doi: 10.1006/excr.1998.4326.


The Golgi complex of mammalian cells is composed of cisternal stacks that function in processing and sorting of membrane and luminal proteins during transport from the site of synthesis in the endoplasmic reticulum to lysosomes, secretory vacuoles, and the cell surface. Even though exceptions are found, the Golgi stacks are usually arranged as an interconnected network in the region around the centrosome, the major organizing center for cytoplasmic microtubules. A close relation thus exists between Golgi elements and microtubules (especially the stable subpopulation enriched in detyrosinated and acetylated tubulin). After drug-induced disruption of microtubules, the Golgi stacks are disconnected from each other, partly broken up, dispersed in the cytoplasm, and redistributed to endoplasmic reticulum exit sites. Despite this, intracellular protein traffic is only moderately disturbed. Following removal of the drugs, scattered Golgi elements move along reassembling microtubules back to the centrosomal region and reunite into a continuous system. The microtubule-dependent motor proteins cytoplasmic dynein and kinesin bind to Golgi membranes and have been implicated in vesicular transport to and from the Golgi complex. Microinjection of dynein heavy chain antibodies causes dispersal of the Golgi complex, and the Golgi complex of cells lacking cytoplasmic dynein is likewise spread throughout the cytoplasm. In a similar manner, kinesin antibodies have been found to inhibit Golgi-to-endoplasmic reticulum transport in brefeldin A-treated cells and scattering of Golgi elements along remaining microtubules in cells exposed to a low concentration of nocodazole. The molecular mechanisms in the interaction between microtubules and membranes are, however, incompletely understood. During mitosis, the Golgi complex is extensively reorganized in order to ensure an equal partitioning of this single-copy organelle between the daughter cells. Mitosis-promoting factor, a complex of cdc2 kinase and cyclin B, is a key regulator of this and other events in the induction of cell division. Cytoplasmic microtubules depolymerize in prophase and as a result thereof, the Golgi stacks become smaller, disengage from each other, and take up a perinuclear distribution. The mitotic spindle is thereafter put together, aligns the chromosomes in the metaphase plate, and eventually pulls the sister chromatids apart in anaphase. In parallel, the Golgi stacks are broken down into clusters of vesicles and tubules and movement of protein along the exocytic and endocytic pathways is inhibited. Using a cell-free system, it has been established that the fragmentation of the Golgi stacks is due to a continued budding of transport vesicles and a concomitant inhibition of the fusion of the vesicles with their target membranes. In telophase and after cytokinesis, a Golgi complex made up of interconnected cisternal stacks is recreated in each daughter cell and intracellular protein traffic is resumed. This restoration of a normal interphase morphology and function is dependent on reassembly of a radiating array of cytoplasmic microtubules along which vesicles can be carried and on reactivation of the machinery for membrane fusion.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytoplasm
  • Golgi Apparatus / physiology*
  • Microtubules / physiology*
  • Mitosis / physiology