The Endomembrane System and Proteins

The endomembrane system (endo = “within”) is a group of membranes and organelles (Figure) in eukaryotic cells that works together to modify, package, and transport lipids and proteins. It includes the nuclear envelope, lysosomes, and vesicles, which we have already mentioned, and the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus, which we will cover shortly. Although not technically within the cell, the plasma membrane is included in the endomembrane system because, as you will see, it interacts with the other endomembranous organelles. The endomembrane system does not include either mitochondria or chloroplast membranes.

Art Connection

The left part of this figure shows the rough ER with an integral membrane protein embedded in it. The part of the protein facing the inside of the ER has a carbohydrate attached to it. The protein is shown leaving the ER in a vesicle that fuses with the cis side of the Golgi apparatus. The Golgi apparatus consists of several layers of membranes, called cisternae. As the protein passes through the cisternae, it is further modified by the addition of more carbohydrates. Eventually, it leaves the trans face of the Golgi in a vesicle. The vesicle fuses with the cell membrane so that the carbohydrate that was on the inside of the vesicle now faces the outside of the membrane. At the same time, the contents of the vesicle are ejected from the cell.
Membrane and secretory proteins are synthesized in the rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER). The RER also sometimes modifies proteins. In this illustration, an attachment of a (purple) carbohydrate modifies a (green) integral membrane protein in the ER. Vesicles with the integral protein bud from the ER and fuse with the Golgi apparatus' cis face. As the protein passes along the Golgi’s cisternae, the addition of more carbohydrates further modifies it. After its synthesis is complete, it exits as an integral membrane protein of the vesicle that buds from the Golgi’s trans face. When the vesicle fuses with the cell membrane, the protein becomes an integral portion of that cell membrane. (credit: modification of work by Magnus Manske)

If a peripheral membrane protein were synthesized in the lumen (inside) of the ER, would it end up on the inside or outside of the plasma membrane?

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