Publisher: Birkhäuser Basel
The following chapter covers the saga of the Golgi apparatus (GA) from its discovery to the beginning of the 1980s when new tools for research, such as antibodies and molecular probes, became available. Emphasis is given to early insights and to those developments which laid the foundations for new developments covered in this monograph. This historical review, however, cannot include detailed descriptions nor can all significant contributions be mentioned. I apologize to all those whose work may not have found its due consideration. The historical development of our current knowledge of the GA is paradigmatic for the evolution of science in many ways. It exemplifies the importance of new approaches for progress to be made since contacts with apparently unrelated areas of research very often lead to surprising breakthroughs. Camillo Golgi discovered the “apparato reticolare interno”by using his difficult “black reaction”which brought him fame for the first demonstration of neuronal networks. During the following fifty years, the GA remained an intangible and often spurious concept for one part of the scientific community while the other was convinced of its reality, ubiquity and functional association with secretory processes. The end of this “Golgi controversy”was marked by the identification of the GA as a morphological entity by electron microscopy at the beginning of the 1950s. This advance, followed by the general pace of the postwar development of the life sciences, led to a singular explosion of interest in this organelle during the 1960s as reflected by a citation analysis. Major contributions were the observations on cytochemical differentiation of the cisternal stack of the GA, its role in secretion, and post-translational modifications as shown by autoradiography and biochemically by fractionation. At the end of the 1970s, the importance of the GA within the secretory pathway and its contribution to structural changes of secretory products was solidly established. The development of immunochemical and molecular probes for Golgi-specific marker proteins was the beginning of the current era. These tools now permit studies on the biogenesis of the GA, molecular mechanisms of intracellular transport and sorting, assembly and disassembly during the cell cycle, the fine architecture of this organelle, and have shown its ubiquity among eukaryotic cells including yeasts. All these aspects are at the center of current interests and are comprehensively dealt with in this volume.