The intracellular transport of newly synthesized G protein of vesicular stomatitis virus is blocked at 20 degrees C and this spanning membrane glycoprotein accumulates in the last Golgi compartment, the trans Golgi-network (TGN). Previous morphological evidence suggested that the TGN enlarged significantly under this condition. In the present study we have used stereological procedures to estimate the volume and surface area of the Golgi stack and the TGN of baby hamster kidney cells under different conditions. The results indicate that the increase in the size of the TGN at 20 degrees C is accompanied by a significant decrease in the surface area and volume of the preceding Golgi compartments. A similar effect is also seen in uninfected cells at 20 degrees C, as well as during normal (37 degrees C) infection with Semliki Forest virus. In the latter case, however, the decrease in the size of the Golgi stack and the increase in that of the TGN is not accompanied by inhibition of transport from the Golgi complex to the cell surface. The results indicate that the Golgi stack and the TGN are dynamic and interrelated structures that are capable of rapid alteration in total surface area in response to changes in the rates of membrane transport.

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