An intimate liaison: spatial organization of the endoplasmic reticulum–mitochondria relationship

Olga Martins de Brito, Luca Scorrano

Author Affiliations

  1. Olga Martins de Brito1, and
  2. Luca Scorrano*,1,2
  1. 1 Dulbecco‐Telethon Institute, Venetian Institute of Molecular Medicine, Padua, Italy
  2. 2 Department of Cell Physiology and Metabolism, University of Geneva Medical School, Geneva, Switzerland
  1. *Corresponding author. Department of Cell Physiology and Metabolism, University of Geneva Medical School, 1 Rue M. Servet, Geneva 1206, Switzerland. Tel.: +41 22 379 5235; Fax: +41 22 379 5260; E-mail: luca.scorrano{at}
  • Present address: Cancer Research UK, London Research Institute, 44 Lincoln's Inn Fields, WC2A 3PX London, UK

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Organelle localization is often crucial to properly modulate cellular functions and signalling cascades. For example, the distribution of organelles in axons is crucial for their function and is dysregulated in several diseases. Similarly, relative positioning of two or more organelles is also important to perform certain specialized processes. Perhaps, the best‐known form of interorganellar organization is that between endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria. Close communication between these two compartments has been observed for a long time. Recent evidence suggests that this is the basis for a bidirectional communication regulating a number of physiological processes ranging from mitochondrial energy and lipid metabolism to Ca2+ signalling and cell death. The recent discovery of some of the molecular mediators of the tethering already allowed to extend the function of this paradigmatic spatial organization to previously unexpected functions, and will foster future research to explore it in cellular signalling cascades as well as in disease.

  • Received June 6, 2010.
  • Accepted June 30, 2010.
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