The coat proteins required for budding COP-coated vesicles from Golgi membranes, coatomer and ADP-ribosylation factor (ARF) protein, are shown to be required to reconstitute the orderly process of transport between Golgi cisternae in which fusion of transport vesicles begins only after budding ends. When either coat protein is omitted, fusion is uncoupled from budding-donor and acceptor compartments pair directly without an intervening vesicle. Coupling may therefore results from the sequestration of fusogenic membrane proteins into assembling coated vesicles that are only exposed when the coat is removed after budding is complete. This mechanism of coupling explains the phenomenon of "retrograde transport" triggered by uncouplers such as the drug brefeldin A.

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