What Is the Function of the Golgi Apparatus?

The Golgi apparatus is responsible for identifying, processing and packaging macromolecules. The Golgi apparatus does not create macromolecules, nor does it assist with the macromolecules’ functions. Instead, it acts like a courier and simply transfers the macromolecules to the appropriate destination.

The Golgi apparatus is an organelle found in DNA-carrying eukaryotic cells. It is one of the largest structures inside the cell. The Golgi apparatus resembles a long, thin ribbon folded on top of itself to create a long, layered central part with curved edges on either end. These internal layers are known as the cisternae, and their size and shape depend on the type of cell. Cisternae found in animal cells typically have 10 to 20 layers, while the cisternae of single-cell organisms often have 60 layers.

The macromolecule enters the Golgi apparatus at one of the curved ends. It traces its way through the layers of cisternae while being sorted and refined by the Golgi apparatus. At the end of the cisternae maze, the macromolecule enters a transport vessel and is shipped to the appropriate destination.

According to a 2009 study by Daniel Ungar, malfunctions in the Golgi apparatus and its cisternae are tied to inheritable diseases, such as muscular dystrophy, as well as diabetes and several forms of cancer.