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J Cell Sci. 2000 Jul;113 ( Pt 13):2331-43.

Spectrin tethers and mesh in the biosynthetic pathway.

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Department of Cell Biology and Oncology, Consorzio Mario Negri Sud, Santa Maria Imbaro (Chieti), Italy.


The paradox of how the Golgi and other organelles can sort a continuous flux of protein and lipid but maintain temporal and morphological stability remains unresolved. Recent discoveries highlight a role for the cytoskeleton in guiding the structure and dynamics of organelles. Perhaps one of the more striking, albeit less expected, of these discoveries is the recognition that a spectrin skeleton associates with many organelles and contributes to the maintenance of Golgi structure and the efficiency of protein trafficking in the early secretory pathway. Spectrin interacts directly with phosphoinositides and with membrane proteins. The small GTPase ARF, a key player in Golgi dynamics, regulates the assembly of the Golgi spectrin skeleton through its ability to control phosphoinositide levels in Golgi membranes, whereas adapter molecules such as ankyrin link spectrin to other membrane proteins. Direct interactions of spectrin with actin and centractin (ARP1) provide a link to dynein, myosin and presumably other motors involved with intracellular transport. Building on the recognized ability of spectrin to organize macromolecular complexes of membrane and cytosolic proteins into a multifaceted scaffold linked to filamentous structural elements (termed linked mosaics), recent evidence supports a similar role for spectrin in organelle function and the secretory pathway. Two working models accommodate much of the available data: the Golgi mesh hypothesis and the spectrin ankyrin adapter protein tethering system (SAATS) hypothesis.

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