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J Cell Biol. 2000 Jan 10;148(1):45-58.

Correlative light-electron microscopy reveals the tubular-saccular ultrastructure of carriers operating between Golgi apparatus and plasma membrane.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology and Oncology, Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche "Mario Negri," Consorzio Mario Negri Sud, 66030 S. Maria Imbaro (Chieti), Italy.


Transport intermediates (TIs) have a central role in intracellular traffic, and much effort has been directed towards defining their molecular organization. Unfortunately, major uncertainties remain regarding their true structure in living cells. To address this question, we have developed an approach based on the combination of the green fluorescent protein technology and correlative light-electron microscopy, by which it is possible to monitor an individual carrier in vivo and then take a picture of its ultrastructure at any moment of its life-cycle. We have applied this technique to define the structure of TIs operating from the Golgi apparatus to the plasma membrane, whose in vivo dynamics have been characterized recently by light microscopy. We find that these carriers are large (ranging from 0.3-1.7 microm in maximum diameter, nearly half the size of a Golgi cisterna), comprise almost exclusively tubular-saccular structures, and fuse directly with the plasma membrane, sometimes minutes after docking to the fusion site.

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