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    Mitochondria-endoplasmic reticulum contacts (MERCs) play an essential role in multiple cell physiological processes. Although Mfn2 was the first protein implicated in the formation of MERCs, there is debate as to whether it acts as a tether or antagonizer, largely based on in vitro studies. To understand the role of Mfn2 in MERCs in vivo, we characterized ultrastructural and biochemical changes of MERCs in pyramidal neurons of hippocampus in Mfn2 conditional knockout mice and in Mfn2 overexpressing mice, and found that Mfn2 ablation caused reduced close contacts, whereas Mfn2 overexpression caused increased close contacts between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria in vivo. Functional studies on SH-SY5Y cells with Mfn2 knockout or overexpression demonstrating similar biochemical changes found that mitochondrial calcium uptake along with IP3R3-Grp75 interaction was decreased in Mfn2 knockout cells but increased in Mfn2 overexpressing cells. Lastly, we found Mfn2 knockout decreased and Mfn2 overexpression increased the interaction between the ER-mitochondria tethering pair of VAPB-PTPIP51. In conclusion, our study supports the notion that Mfn2 plays a critical role in ER-mitochondrial tethering and the formation of close contacts in neuronal cells in vivo. © 2021. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.


    Song Han, Fanpeng Zhao, Jeffrey Hsia, Xiaopin Ma, Yi Liu, Sandy Torres, Hisashi Fujioka, Xiongwei Zhu. The role of Mfn2 in the structure and function of endoplasmic reticulum-mitochondrial tethering in vivo. Journal of cell science. 2021 Jul 01;134(13)

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    PMID: 34110411

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