Mixed monolayers containing vesicular stomatitis virus-infected Chinese hamster ovary clone 15B cells (lacking UDP-N-acetylglucosamine transferase I, a Golgi enzyme) and uninfected wild-type Chinese hamster ovary cells were formed. Extensive cell fusion occurs after the monolayer is exposed to a pH of 5.0. The vesicular stomatitis virus encoded membrane glycoprotein (G protein) resident in the rough endoplasmic reticulum (labeled with [35S]methionine) or Golgi complex (labeled with [3H]palmitate) of 15B cells at the time of fusion can reach Golgi complexes from wild-type cells after fusion; G protein present in the plasma membrane cannot. Transfer to wild-type Golgi complexes is monitored by the conversion of G protein to an endoglycosidase H-resistant form upon arrival, and also demonstrated by immunofluorescence microscopy. G protein in the Golgi complex of the 15B cells at the time of fusion exhibits properties vis a vis its transfer to an exogenous Golgi population identical to those found earlier in a cell-free system (Fries, E., and J. E. Rothman. 1981. J. Cell Biol., 90: 697-704). Specifically, pulse-chase experiments using the in vivo fusion and in vitro assays reveal the same two populations of G protein in the Golgi complex. The first population, consisting of G protein molecules that have just received their fatty acid, can transfer to a second Golgi population in vivo and in vitro. The second population, entered by G protein approximately 5 min after its acylation, is unavailable for this transfer, in vivo and in vitro. Presumably, this second population consists of those G-protein molecules that had already been transferred between compartments within the 15B Golgi population, in an equivalent process before cell fusion or homogenization for in vitro assays. Evidently, the same compartment boundary in the Golgi complex is detected by these two measurements. The surprisingly facile process of glycoprotein transit between Golgi stacks that occurs in vivo may therefore be retained in vitro, providing a basis for the cell-free system.

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