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Signaling hubs at ER/mitochondrial membrane associations

Department of Natural Sciences, Pepperdine University, Malibu CA, USA

Special Issues: Membrane Organization

Signaling between organelles has profound implications for our understanding of organelle structural organization and regulatory processes. Close regional apposition of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondrial membranes has been known for 50 years, but only in the past 20 years have scientists begun to unravel the nature and purpose of these quasi-synaptic contact points. At these sites of association, membranes have been shown to be of unique molecular composition, defining raft domains that are densely populated with membrane proteins, sphingolipids, and cholesterol. These associations are now referred to as mitochondrial associated membranes (MAMs). MAM domains mediate a complex array of cellular processes including; exchange of macromolecules, Ca2+ transfer, physical tethering, regulation of mitochondrial division, and signaling pathways that control autophagy and apoptosis. Dysfunction of MAM function is known to have profound cellular influence, and including the activation of several neurodegenerative disorders.
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Keywords mitochondrial associated membranes; apoptosis signaling; lipid rafts; endoplasmic reticulum; inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor; organelle tethers; neurodegeneration

Citation: Jay L. Brewster. Signaling hubs at ER/mitochondrial membrane associations. AIMS Biophysics, 2017, 4(2): 222-239. doi: 10.3934/biophy.2017.2.222

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