Shaping the Endoplasmic Reticulum into a Social Network

Trends Cell Biol. 2016 Dec;26(12):934-943. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2016.06.002. Epub 2016 Jun 21.


In eukaryotic cells, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is constructed as a network of tubules and sheets that exist in one continuous membrane system. Several classes of integral membrane protein have been shown to shape ER membranes. Functional studies using mutant proteins have begun to reveal the significance of ER morphology and membrane dynamics. In this review, we discuss the common protein modules and mechanisms that generate the characteristic shape of the ER. We also describe the cellular functions closely related to ER morphology, particularly contacts with other membrane systems, and their potential roles in the development of multicellular organisms.

Keywords: endoplasmic reticulum; membrane fusion; membrane shaping; multicellular development; organelle contacts.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Protein Transport