Rab6 is a ubiquitous ras-like GTP-binding protein associated with the membranes of the Golgi complex (Goud, B., A. Zahraoui, A. Tavitian, and J. Saraste. 1990. Nature (Lond.). 345:553-556; Antony, C., C. Cibert, G. Géraud, A. Santa Maria, B. Maro, V. Mayau, and B. Goud. 1992. J. Cell Sci. 103: 785-796). We have transiently overexpressed in mouse L cells and human HeLa cells wild-type rab6, GTP (rab6 Q72L), and GDP (rab6 T27N) -bound mutants of rab6 and analyzed the intracellular transport of a soluble secreted form of alkaline phosphatase (SEAP) and of a plasma membrane protein, the hemagglutinin protein (HA) of influenza virus. Over-expression of wild-type rab6 and rab6 Q72L greatly reduced transport of both markers between cis/medial (alpha-mannosidase II positive) and late (sialyl-transferase positive) Golgi compartments, without affecting transport from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to cis/medial-Golgi or from the trans-Golgi network (TGN) to the plasma membrane. Whereas overexpression of rab6 T27N did not affect the individual steps of transport between ER and the plasma membrane, it caused an apparent delay in secretion, most likely due to the accumulation of the transport markers in late Golgi compartments. Overexpression of both rab6 Q72L and rab6 T27N altered the morphology of the Golgi apparatus as well as that of the TGN, as assessed at the immunofluorescence level with several markers. We interpret these results as indicating that rab6 controls intra-Golgi transport, either acting as an inhibitor in anterograde transport or as a positive regulator of retrograde transport.

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