Balancing ER dynamics: shaping, bending, severing, and mending membranes

Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2011 Aug;23(4):435-42. doi: 10.1016/


The endoplasmic reticulum is a multifunctional organelle composed of functionally and morphologically distinct domains. These include the relatively planar nuclear envelope and the peripheral ER, a network of sheet-like cisternae interconnected with tubules that spread throughout the cytoplasm. The ER is highly dynamic and the shape of its domains as well as their relative content are in constant flux. The multiple forces driving these morphological changes depend on the interaction between the ER and microtubules, membrane fusion and fission events and the action of proteins capable of actively shaping membranes. The interplay between these forces is ultimately responsible for the dynamic morphology of the ER, which in turn is crucial for properly executing the varied functions of this organelle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism
  • Membrane Fusion
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Nuclear Envelope / metabolism
  • Organelles / metabolism