Communication between organelles is a necessary consequence of intracellular compartmentalization. Membrane contact sites (MCSs) are regions where the membranes of two organelles come into close apposition allowing exchange of small molecules and ions including Ca²⁺. The ER, the cell's major Ca²⁺ store, forms an extensive and dynamic network of contacts with multiple organelles. Here we review established and emerging roles of ER contacts as platforms for Ca²⁺ exchange and further consider a potential role for Ca²⁺ in the regulation of MCS formation. We additionally discuss the challenges associated with the study of MCS biology and highlight advances in microscopy-based solutions. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: 13th European Symposium on Calcium.
Keywords: Ca2+ exchange; Calcium; ER; Membrane contact sites (MCSs).
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