Acinar cells of exocrine glands are highly specialized for producing, storing, and discharging secretory proteins for use on surfaces that represent interfaces between the organism and the surrounding environment. These functions are achieved through the secretory pathway that includes a series of functionally distinct intracellular compartments — The endoplasmic reticulum, subcompartmenls of the Go/gi complex, and the secretion granule in which exportable macromolecules are stored at high concentrations. Most secretion occurs by granule exocytosis in response to external hormonal or neural stimuli. Although these processes have been traced in a variety of morphological and biochemical studies, very little is known about the mechanisms involved in facilitating and maintaining secretory storage, orchestrating discharge at the apical cell surface, and in ensuring conservation and re-internalization of the granule membrane. Recent studies initiated on cell fractions obtained from the rat parotid gland have provided significant insight into the protein storage conditions that prevail in the granule interior and the components of the granule membrane that are likely to be involved in general secretory function such as exocytosis.
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