It has been established by electron microscopic radioautography of guinea pig pancreatic exocrine cells (Caro and Palade, 1964) that secretory proteins are transported from the elements of the rough-surfaced endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to condensing vacuoles of the Golgi complex possibly via small vesicles located in the periphery of the complex. To define more clearly the role of these vesicles in the intracellular transport of secretory proteins, we have investigated the secretory cycle of the guinea pig pancreas by cell fractionation procedures applied to pancreatic slices incubated in vitro. Such slices remain viable for 3 hr and incur minimal structural damage in this time. Their secretory proteins can be labeled with radioactive amino acids in short, well defined pulses which, followed by cell fractionation, makes possible a kinetic analysis of transport. To determine the kinetics of transport, we pulse-labeled sets of slices for 3 min with leucine-14C and incubated them for further +7, +17, and +57 min in chase medium. At each time, smooth microsomes ( = peripheral elements of the Golgi complex) and rough microsomes ( = elements of the rough ER) were isolated from the slices by density gradient centrifugation of the total microsomal fraction. Labeled proteins appeared initially (end of pulse) in the rough microsomes and were subsequently transferred during incubation in chase medium to the smooth microsomes, reaching a maximal concentration in this fraction after +7 min chase incubation. Later, labeled proteins left the smooth microsomes to appear in the zymogen granule fraction. These data provide direct evidence that secretory proteins are transported from the cisternae of the rough ER to condensing vacuoles via the small vesicles of the Golgi complex.

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