Recent in vivo studies with the fungal metabolite, brefeldin A (BFA), have shown that in the absence of vesicle formation, membranes of the Golgi complex and the trans-Golgi network (TGN) are nevertheless able to extend long tubules which fuse with selected target organelles. We report here that the ability to form tubules (> 7 microns long) could be reproduced in vitro by treatment of isolated, intact Golgi membranes with BFA under certain conditions. Surprisingly, an even more impressive degree of tubulation could be achieved by incubating Golgi stacks with an ATP-reduced cytosolic fraction, without any BFA at all. Similarly, tubulation of Golgi membranes in vivo occurred after treatment of cells with intermediate levels of NaN3 and 2-deoxyglucose. The formation of tubules in vitro, either by BFA treatment or low-ATP cytosol, correlated precisely with a loss of the vesicle-associated coat protein beta-COP from Golgi membranes. After removal of BFA or addition of ATP, membrane tubules served as substrates for the rebinding of beta-COP and for the formation of vesicles in vitro. These results provide support for the idea that a reciprocal relationship exists between tubulation and vesiculation (Klausner, R. D., J. G. Donaldson, and J. Lippincott-Schwartz. 1992. J. Cell Biol. 116:1071-1080). Moreover, they show that tubulation is an inherent property of Golgi membranes, since it occurs without the aid of microtubules or BFA treatment. Finally the results indicate the presence of cytosolic factors, independent of vesicle-associated coat proteins, that mediate the budding/tubulation of Golgi membranes.

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