A striking example of the interrelation between the Golgi complex (GC) and microtubules is the reversible fragmentation and dispersal of the GC which occurs upon microtubule depolymerization. We have characterized dispersal of the GC after nocodazole treatment as well as its recovery from the dispersed state by immunofluorescent localization of beta 1, 4-galactosyltransferase in Madin-Darby bovine kidney cells. Immunofluorescent anti-tubulin staining allowed simultaneous examination of the microtubule array. Based on our results, dispersal can be divided into a three-step process: microtubule depolymerization, GC fragmentation, and fragment dispersal. In cells treated with metabolic inhibitors after microtubule depolymerization, neither fragmentation nor dispersal occur, despite the absence of assembled microtubules. Thus, fragmentation is energy dependent and not tightly linked to microtubule depolymerization. The slowing of fragmentation and dispersal by monensin or ammonium chloride, as well as progressive inhibition at less than 34 degrees C, suggest that ongoing membrane traffic is required for these processes. Similarly, recovery may be separated into four steps: microtubule depolymerization, GC fragment centralization, fragment coalescence, and polarization of the reticular GC network. Fragment centralization and coalescence were arrested by metabolic inhibitors, despite the presence of microtubules. Neither monensin nor ammonium choride inhibited GC recovery. Partial inhibition of recovery at reduced temperatures paralleled the extent of microtubule assembly. These data demonstrate that dispersal and recovery are multi-step operations, and that the individual steps differ in temperature dependence, energy dependence, and sensitivity to ionic perturbation. GC distribution and microtubule status have also been clearly dissociate, thereby proving that organization of the GC is an active process that is not simply determined by microtubule binding. Furthermore, the results indicate that ongoing intra-GC membrane traffic may participate in fragmentation and dispersal.

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