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The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the largest organelle in the cell, and its functions have been studied for decades. The past several years have provided novel insights into the existence of distinct domains between the ER and other organelles, known as membrane contact sites (MCSs). At these contact sites, organelle membranes are closely apposed and tethered, but do not fuse. Here, various protein complexes can work in concert to perform specialized functions such as binding, sensing and transferring molecules, as well as engaging in organelle biogenesis and dynamics. This Review describes the structure and functions of MCSs, primarily focusing on contacts of the ER with mitochondria and endosomes.


Melissa J Phillips, Gia K Voeltz. Structure and function of ER membrane contact sites with other organelles. Nature reviews. Molecular cell biology. 2016 Feb;17(2):69-82

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PMID: 26627931

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