In this review I describe the several stages of my research career, all of which were driven by a desire to understand the basic mechanisms responsible for the complex and beautiful organization of the eukaryotic cell. I was originally trained as an electron microscopist in Argentina, and my first major contribution was the introduction of glutaraldehyde as a fixative that preserved the fine structure of cells, which opened the way for cytochemical studies at the EM level. My subsequent work on membrane-bound ribosomes illuminated the process of cotranslational translocation of polypeptides across the ER membrane and led to the formulation, with Gunter Blobel, of the signal hypothesis. My later studies with many talented colleagues contributed to an understanding of ER structure and function and aspects of the mechanisms that generate and maintain the polarity of epithelial cells. For this work my laboratory introduced the now widely adopted Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cell line, and demonstrated the polarized budding of envelope viruses from those cells, providing a powerful new system that further advanced the field of protein traffic.


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