Highlighting the endoplasmic reticulum-mitochondria connection: Focus on Mitofusin 2

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Abstract

The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and the mitochondrial network are two highly interconnected cellular structures. By proteinaceous tethers, specialized membrane domains of the ER are tightly associated with the outer membrane of mitochondria, allowing the assembly of signaling platforms where different cell functions take place or are modulated, such as lipid biosynthesis, Ca2+ homeostasis, inflammation, autophagy and apoptosis. The ER-mitochondria coupling is highly dynamic and contacts between the two organelles can be modified in their number, extension and thickness by different stimuli. Importantly, several pathological conditions, such as cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and metabolic syndromes show alterations in this feature, underlining the key role of ER-mitochondria crosstalk in cell physiology. In this contribution, we will focus on one of the major modulator of ER-mitochondria apposition, Mitofusin 2, discussing the structure of the protein and its debated role on organelles tethering. Moreover, we will critically describe different techniques commonly used to investigate this crucial issue, highlighting their advantages, drawbacks and limits.

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