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Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Cell Res. 2017 Sep;1864(9):1494-1506. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2017.05.018. Epub 2017 May 26.

ER-plasma membrane junctions: Why and how do we study them?

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Department of Physiology, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX 75390, USA.
Department of Physiology, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX 75390, USA. Electronic address:


Endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-plasma membrane (PM) junctions are membrane microdomains important for communication between the ER and the PM. ER-PM junctions were first reported in muscle cells in 1957, but mostly ignored in non-excitable cells due to their scarcity and lack of functional significance. In 2005, the discovery of stromal interaction molecule 1 (STIM1) mediating a universal Ca2+ feedback mechanism at ER-PM junctions in mammalian cells led to a resurgence of research interests toward ER-PM junctions. In the past decade, several major advancements have been made in this emerging topic in cell biology, including the generation of tools for labeling ER-PM junctions and the unraveling of mechanisms underlying regulation and functions of ER-PM junctions. This review summarizes early studies, recently developed tools, and current advances in the characterization and understanding of ER-PM junctions. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Membrane Contact Sites edited by Christian Ungermann and Benoit Kornmann.

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