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Mol Biol Cell. 2009 Aug;20(15):3471-80. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E09-04-0327. Epub 2009 Jun 3.

Cisternal organization of the endoplasmic reticulum during mitosis.

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Department of Cell Biology and Immune Disease Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of animal cells is a single, dynamic, and continuous membrane network of interconnected cisternae and tubules spread out throughout the cytosol in direct contact with the nuclear envelope. During mitosis, the nuclear envelope undergoes a major rearrangement, as it rapidly partitions its membrane-bound contents into the ER. It is therefore of great interest to determine whether any major transformation in the architecture of the ER also occurs during cell division. We present structural evidence, from rapid, live-cell, three-dimensional imaging with confirmation from high-resolution electron microscopy tomography of samples preserved by high-pressure freezing and freeze substitution, unambiguously showing that from prometaphase to telophase of mammalian cells, most of the ER is organized as extended cisternae, with a very small fraction remaining organized as tubules. In contrast, during interphase, the ER displays the familiar reticular network of convolved cisternae linked to tubules.

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