Eukaryotic cells are characterised by the organised distribution of membrane bounded compartments in their cytoplasm. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and the Golgi apparatus (GA) are part of this endomembrane machinery. They are involved in protein flow, and are in charge of specific functions such as the assembly, sorting and transport of newly synthesised proteins, glycoproteins or polysaccharides to their final destination, where the macromolecules are recognised either for action, storage deposition or degradation. The structural and functional relationship between the ER and GA in higher plants is still a matter of debate. Therefore, it was essential to develop probes that would specifically label proteins or glycoproteins of the endomembrane system in situ. Here we compare two complementary approaches to probe plant endomembranes; immunocytochemistry on fixed cells, and in vivo studies using the expression of GFP tagged chimeric proteins. The structural relationship between ER and GA as based on pharmacological approaches using the two systems is explored.
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