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Brefeldin a

(Science: chemical) a macrocyclic lactone synthesised from palmitic acid by several fungi.

It was initially described as an antiviral antibiotic, but it was later found to inhibit protein secretion at an early stage, probably blocking secretion in a pre Golgi compartment. Its exact site of action is still a matter of debate, one suggestion being that it inhibits the binding of regulatory coat proteins to organellar membranes.

nevertheless, it has proved a valuable tool for studying membrane traffic and the control of organelle structure.