We have recently shown that ilimaquinone (IQ) causes the breakdown of Golgi membranes into small vesicles (VGMs for vesiculated Golgi membranes) and inhibits vesicular protein transport between successive Golgi cisternae (Takizawa et al., 1993). While other intracellular organelles, intermediate filaments, and actin filaments are not affected, we have found that cytoplasmic microtubules are depolymerized by IQ treatment of NRK cells. We provide evidence that IQ breaks down Golgi membranes regardless of the state of cytoplasmic microtubules. This is evident from our findings that Golgi membranes break down with IQ treatment in the presence of taxol stabilized microtubules. Moreover, in cells where the microtubules are first depolymerized by microtubule disrupting agents which cause the Golgi stacks to separate from one another and scatter throughout the cytoplasm, treatment with IQ causes further breakdown of these Golgi stacks into VGMs. Thus, IQ breaks down Golgi membranes independently of its effect on cytoplasmic microtubules. Upon removal of IQ from NRK cells, both microtubules and Golgi membranes reassemble. The reassembly of Golgi membranes, however, takes place in two sequential steps: the first is a microtubule independent process in which the VGMs fuse together to form stacks of Golgi cisternae. This step is followed by a microtubule-dependent process by which the Golgi stacks are carried to their perinuclear location in the cell. In addition, we have found that IQ has no effect on the structural organization of Golgi membranes at 16 degrees C. However, VGMs generated by IQ are capable of fusing and assembling into stacks of Golgi cisternae at 16 degrees C. This is in contrast to the cells recovering from BFA treatment where, after removal of BFA at 16 degrees C, resident Golgi enzymes fail to exit the ER, a process presumed to require the formation of vesicles. We propose that at 16 degrees C there may be general inhibition in the process of vesicle formation, whereas the process of vesicle fusion is not affected.

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