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Endoplasmic reticulum-plasma membrane junctions: structure, function and dynamics

Okeke, Emmanuel, Dingsdale, Hayley, Parker, Tony, Voronina, Svetlana and Tepikin, Alexei V. 2016. Endoplasmic reticulum-plasma membrane junctions: structure, function and dynamics. Journal of Physiology 594 (11) , pp. 2837-2847. 10.1113/JP271142

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Endoplasmic reticulum (ER)–plasma membrane (PM) junctions are contact sites between the ER and the PM; the distance between the two organelles in the junctions is below 40 nm and the membranes are connected by protein tethers. A number of molecular tools and technical approaches have been recently developed to visualise, modify and characterise properties of ER–PM junctions. The junctions serve as the platforms for lipid exchange between the organelles and for cell signalling, notably Ca2+ and cAMP signalling. Vice versa, signalling events regulate the development and properties of the junctions. Two Ca2+‐dependent mechanisms of de novo formation of ER–PM junctions have been recently described and characterised. The junction‐forming proteins and lipids are currently the focus of vigorous investigation. Junctions can be relatively short‐lived and simple structures, forming and dissolving on the time scale of a few minutes. However, complex, sophisticated and multifunctional ER–PM junctions, capable of attracting numerous protein residents and other cellular organelles, have been described in some cell types. The road from simplicity to complexity, i.e. the transformation from simple ‘nascent’ ER–PM junctions to advanced stable multiorganellar complexes, is likely to become an attractive research avenue for current and future junctologists. Another area of considerable research interest is the downstream cellular processes that can be activated by specific local signalling events in the ER–PM junctions. Studies of the cell physiology and indeed pathophysiology of ER–PM junctions have already produced some surprising discoveries, likely to expand with advances in our understanding of these remarkable organellar contact sites.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0022-3751
Date of Acceptance: 13 February 2016
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2021 02:12

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