How does the ER get its shape?

The ER is the largest membrane bound organelle in the cell and has an elaborate shape made of multiple structurally distinct domains that have different functions.

 

These include the nuclear envelope at it's center, rough ER sheets/cisternae that are studded with ribosomes, and smooth ER tubules that are ribosome devoid but traffic on microtubules to regulate the biogenesis of other organelles at contact sites. We are studying the machineries and mechanisms that shape ER domains are interested in the following questions:

  • How do integral membrane proteins like the reticulons and interactions with motor proteins on the cytoskeleton generate the dynamic tubular ER network?
     

  • What factors and mechanisms generate the structure of rough ER sheets? How are these mechanisms upregulated in professional secretory cells?
     

  • How are the structures of the nuclear envelope, rough, and smooth ER disassembled and/or rearranged through the cell cycle?

RP_ERshape.png

Cos-7 cell expressing mCh-Sec61ß. Notice 3 domains of ER; Nuclear envelope, Tubules, and Cisternae

View our other research projects: