We have developed an in vitro system to study the biochemical events in the fusion of ilimaquinone (IQ) induced vesiculated Golgi membranes (VGMs) into stacks of cisternae. The Golgi complex in intact normal rat kidney cells (NRK) is vesiculated by treatment with IQ. The cells are washed to remove the drug and then permeabilized by a rapid freeze-thaw procedure. VGMs of 60 nm average diameter assemble into stacks of Golgi cisternae by a process that is temperature dependent, requires ATP and a high speed supernatant from cell extract (cytosol), as revealed by immunofluorescence and electron microscopy. The newly assembled stacks are functionally active in vesicular protein transport and contain processing enzymes that carry out Golgi specific modifications of glycoproteins. The fusion of VGMs requires NSF, a protein known to promote fusion of transport vesicles with the target membrane in the exocytic and endocytic pathways. Immunoelectron microscopy using Golgi specific anti-mannosidase II antibody reveals that VGMs undergo sequential changes in their morphology, whereby they first fuse to form larger vesicles of 200-300-nm average diameter which subsequently extend into tubular elements and finally assemble into stacks of cisternae.

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