Vesicular transport is a dynamic system responsible for protein, sugar, and lipid transport. The system begins at the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) for proteins and lipids or the Golgi apparatus for polysaccharides and terminates at the cell surface or lytic/vacuolar compartments. In addition to the exocytic pathway, the endocytic pathway is also a vesicular transport system. The ER is a network of membrane-bound flattened sacs and tubules which manufactures membranes, secretory proteins, and oil droplets. The major functions of Golgi apparatus are protein glycosylation and polysaccharide synthesis. The trans-Golgi network is the sorting site of glycoproteins carried from Golgi cisternae. The basic molecular mechanisms of vesicular transport and the basic construction of cisternal stacks are similar between animal and plant/algal cells. On the other hand, the architecture, distribution, and reproduction of Golgi apparatus are quite different between plant cells and mammalian cells. In mammalian cells, many cisternal stacks link together and form a single large complex. In contrast, the Golgi apparatus in plant/algal cells is composed of small, separated cisternal stacks (Golgi bodies) which are distributed throughout the cell. While the animal Golgi apparatus reproduces by disassembling at mitosis, many plant Golgi bodies divide synchronously into two before mitosis and do not fragment during mitosis. The plant Golgi apparatus is more involved in polysaccharide secretion than protein secretion. The eight figures selected for this chapter illustrate various aspects of the vesicular transport system in algae and plants.
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