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J Cell Sci. 2016 Apr 15;129(8):1552-65. doi: 10.1242/jcs.175273. Epub 2016 Feb 18.

Transmembrane protein TMEM170A is a newly discovered regulator of ER and nuclear envelope morphogenesis in human cells.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus.
European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, Germany.
European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, Germany


The mechanism of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) morphogenesis is incompletely understood. ER tubules are shaped by the reticulons (RTNs) and DP1/Yop1p family members, but the mechanism of ER sheet formation is much less clear. Here, we characterize TMEM170A, a human transmembrane protein, which localizes in ER and nuclear envelope membranes. Silencing or overexpressing TMEM170A in HeLa K cells alters ER shape and morphology. Ultrastructural analysis reveals that downregulation of TMEM170A specifically induces tubular ER formation, whereas overexpression of TMEM170A induces ER sheet formation, indicating that TMEM170A is a newly discovered ER-sheet-promoting protein. Additionally, downregulation of TMEM170A alters nuclear shape and size, decreases the density of nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) in the nuclear envelope and causes either a reduction in inner nuclear membrane (INM) proteins or their relocalization to the ER. TMEM170A interacts with RTN4, a member of the reticulon family; simultaneous co-silencing of TMEM170A and RTN4 rescues ER, NPC and nuclear-envelope-related phenotypes, implying that the two proteins have antagonistic effects on ER membrane organization, and nuclear envelope and NPC formation.


Endoplasmic reticulum; Nuclear envelope; Nuclear pore complex; Reticulon; TMEM170A

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