The reticulons: guardians of the structure and function of the endoplasmic reticulum

Exp Cell Res. 2012 Jul 1;318(11):1201-7. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2012.03.002. Epub 2012 Mar 9.


The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) consists of the nuclear envelope and a peripheral network of tubules and membrane sheets. The tubules are shaped by a specific class of curvature stabilizing proteins, the reticulons and DP1; however it is still unclear how the sheets are assembled. The ER is the cellular compartment responsible for secretory and membrane protein synthesis. The reducing conditions of ER lead to the intra/inter-chain formation of new disulphide bonds into polypeptides during protein folding assessed by enzymatic or spontaneous reactions. Moreover, ER represents the main intracellular calcium storage site and it plays an important role in calcium signaling that impacts many cellular processes. Accordingly, the maintenance of ER function represents an essential condition for the cell, and ER morphology constitutes an important prerogative of it. Furthermore, it is well known that ER undergoes prominent shape transitions during events such as cell division and differentiation. Thus, maintaining the correct ER structure is an essential feature for cellular physiology. Now, it is known that proper ER-associated proteins play a fundamental role in ER tubules formation. Among these ER-shaping proteins are the reticulons (RTN), which are acquiring a relevant position. In fact, beyond the structural role of reticulons, in very recent years new and deeper functional implications of these proteins are emerging in relation to their involvement in several cellular processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / chemistry*
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / physiology
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry*
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology
  • Protein Folding


  • Membrane Proteins
  • Calcium