Baby hamster kidney (BHK) cells were infected with Semliki Forest virus (SFV) and, 2 h later, were treated for 4 h with 10 microM monensin. Each of the four to six flattened cisternae in the Golgi stack became swollen and separated from the others. Intracellular transport of the viral membrane proteins was almost completely inhibited, but their synthesis continued and they accumulated in the swollen Golgi cisternae before the monensin block. In consequence, these cisternae bound large numbers of viral nucleocapsids and were easily distinguished from other swollen cisternae such as those after the block. These intracellular capsid-binding membranes (ICBMs) were not stained by cytochemical markers for endoplasmic reticulum (ER) (glucose-6-phosphatase) or trans Golgi cisternae (thiamine pyrophosphatase, acid phosphatase) but were labeled by Ricinus communis agglutinin I (RCA) in thin, frozen sections. Since this lectin labels only Golgi cisternae in the middle and on the trans side of the stack (Griffiths, G., R. Brands, B. Burke, D. Louvard, and G. Warren, 1982, J. Cell Biol., 95:781-792), we conclude that ICBMs are derived from Golgi cisternae in the middle of the stack, which we term medial cisternae. The overall movement of viral membrane proteins appears to be from cis to trans Golgi cisternae (see reference above), so monensin would block movement from medial to the trans cisternae. It also blocked the trimming of the high-mannose oligosaccharides bound to the viral membrane proteins and their conversion to complex oligosaccharides. These functions presumably reside in trans Golgi cisternae. This is supported by data in the accompanying paper, in which we also show that fatty acids are covalently attached to the viral membrane proteins in the cis or medial cisternae. We suggest that the Golgi stack can be divided into three functionally distinct compartments, each comprising one or two cisternae. The viral membrane proteins, after leaving the ER, would all pass in sequence from the cis to the medial to the trans compartment.

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