The Golgi Apparatus

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In this transmission electron micrograph, the Golgi apparatus appears as a stack of membranes surrounded by unnamed organelles.
The Golgi apparatus in this white blood cell is visible as a stack of semicircular, flattened rings in the lower portion of the image. You can see several vesicles near the Golgi apparatus. (credit: modification of work by Louisa Howard)

OpenStax Biology 2e

The vesicles can bud from the endoplasmic reticulum and transport their contents elsewhere, but where do the vesicles go? Before reaching their final destination, the lipids or proteins within the transport vesicles still need sorting, packaging, and tagging so that they end up in the right place. Sorting, tagging, packaging, and distributing lipids and proteins takes place in the Golgi apparatus (also called the Golgi body), a series of flattened membranes

We call the Golgi apparatus’ the cis face. The opposite side is the trans face. The transport vesicles that formed from the ER travel to the cis face, fuse with it, and empty their contents into the Golgi apparatus’ lumen. As the proteins and lipids travel through the Golgi, they undergo further modifications that allow them to be sorted. The most frequent modification is adding short sugar molecule chains. These newly modified proteins and lipids then tag with phosphate groups or other small molecules in order to travel to their proper destinations.

– What is the biological mechanism by which proteins are transported to their appropriate destinations in the cell or outside it?

Finally, the modified and tagged proteins are packaged into secretory vesicles that bud from the Golgi’s trans face. While some of these vesicles deposit their contents into other cell parts where they will be used, other secretory vesicles fuse with the plasma membrane and release their contents outside the cell.

In another example of form following function, cells that engage in a great deal of secretory activity (such as salivary gland cells that secrete digestive enzymes or immune system cells that secrete antibodies) have an abundance of Golgi.

In plant cells, the Golgi apparatus has the additional role of synthesizing polysaccharides, some of which are incorporated into the cell wall and some of which other cell parts use.

– Who identified the Golgi apparatus in 1897?

The Golgi is a dynamic organelle whose correct assembly is crucial for cellular homeostasis. Perturbations in Golgi structure are associated with numerous disorders from neurodegeneration to cancer. However, whether and how dispersal of the Golgi apparatus is actively regulated under stress, and the consequences of Golgi dispersal, remain unknown.


Clark, M., Douglas, M., Choi, J. Biology 2e. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: