Lipoprotein membrane systems such as chloroplasts and the endoplasmic reticulum exhibit a generalized swelling response. The initial effect is an increase in interlamellar spacing, but as swelling proceeds, the membranes are transformed into closed thin-walled spherical vesicles.
Available evidence suggests that morphogenesis of the endoplasmic reticulum of Nitella and the lamellar system of the Zea chloroplasts involves fusion of small spherical vesicles to yield closed double membrane structures, which subsequently undergo further differentiation.
It is suggested that the vesicles comprise a convenient "micellar" form by which lipides may be transported within the cell from the sites of lipide synthesis to regions of lamellar growth. The characteristic formation of vesicles in swelling and the apparent fusion of vesicles in morphogenesis appear to represent two aspects of a fundamental plasticity of lipoprotein layer systems.