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EMBO Rep. 2002 Oct;3(10):944-50.

Structural organization of the endoplasmic reticulum.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a continuous membrane system but consists of various domains that perform different functions. Structurally distinct domains of this organelle include the nuclear envelope (NE), the rough and smooth ER, and the regions that contact other organelles. The establishment of these domains and the targeting of proteins to them are understood to varying degrees. Despite its complexity, the ER is a dynamic structure. In mitosis it must be divided between daughter cells and domains must be re-established, and even in interphase it is constantly rearranged as tubules extend along the cytoskeleton. Throughout these rearrangements the ER maintains its basic structure. How this is accomplished remains mysterious, but some insight has been gained from in vitro systems.

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