The Endoplasmic Reticulum-Mitochondria Connection: One Touch, Multiple Functions

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014 Apr;1837(4):461-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbabio.2013.10.015. Epub 2013 Nov 8.


The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria are tubular organelles with a characteristic "network structure" that facilitates the formation of interorganellar connections. The ER and mitochondria join together at multiple contact sites to form specific domains, termed mitochondria-ER associated membranes (MAMs), with distinct biochemical properties and a characteristic set of proteins. The functions of these two organelles are coordinated and executed at the ER-mitochondria interface, which provides a platform for the regulation of different processes. The roles played by the ER-mitochondria interface range from the coordination of calcium transfer to the regulation of mitochondrial fission and inflammasome formation as well as the provision of membranes for autophagy. The novel and unconventional processes that occur at the ER-mitochondria interface demonstrate its multifunctional and intrinsically dynamic nature. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Dynamic and ultrastructure of bioenergetic membranes and their components.

Keywords: Autophagy; Calcium; Endoplasmic reticulum; Inflammation; MAM; mitochondria.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy / physiology
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Inflammasomes / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Dynamics / physiology*
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / metabolism
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / physiology*
  • Models, Biological


  • Inflammasomes
  • Calcium