Ultrastructure of Long-Range Transport Carriers Moving from the trans—Golgi Network to Peripheral Endosomes

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The delivery of mannose 6-phosphate receptors carrying lysosomal hydrolases from the trans-Golgi network (TGN) to the endosomal system is mediated by selective incorporation of the receptor–hydrolase complexes into vesicular transport carriers (TCs) that are coated with clathrin and the adaptor proteins, GGA and AP-1. Previous electron microscopy (EM) and biochemical studies have shown that these TCs consist of spherical coated vesicles with a diameter of 60–100 nm. The use of fluorescent live cell imaging, however, has revealed that at least some of this transport relies on a subset of apparently larger and highly pleiomorphic carriers that detach from the TGN and translocate toward the peripheral cytoplasm until they meet with distally located endosomes. The ultrastructure of such long-range TCs has remained obscure because of the inability to examine by conventional EM the morphological details of rapidly moving organelles. The recent development of correlative light-EM has now allowed us to obtain ultrastructural ‘snapshots’ of these TCs immediately after their formation from the TGN in live cells. This approach has revealed that such carriers range from typical 60- to 100-nm clathrin-coated vesicles to larger, convoluted tubular-vesicular structures displaying several coated buds. We propose that this subset of TCs serve as vehicles for long-range distribution of biosynthetic or recycling cargo from the TGN to the peripheral endosomes.

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