's Cell Biology/Vesicular Transport

Transport vesicles play a central role in the traffic of molecules between different membrane-enclosed compartments of the secretory pathway. Vesicles are similarly involved in the transport of materials taken up at the cell surface. Vesicular transport is thus a major cellular activity, responsible for molecular traffic between a variety of specific membrane-enclosed compartments. The selectivity of such transport is therefore key to maintaining the functional organization of the cell. For example, lysosomal enzymes must be transported specifically from the Golgi apparatus to lysosomes—not to the plasma membrane or to the ER. Some of the signals that target proteins to specific organelles, such as lysosomes, were discussed earlier in this chapter. These proteins are transported within vesicles, so the specificity of transport is based on the selective packaging of the intended cargo into vesicles that recognize and fuse only with the appropriate target membrane. Because of the central importance of vesicular transport to the organization of eukaryotic cells, understanding the molecular mechanisms that control vesicle packaging, budding, and fusion is a major area of research in cell biology.