Cellular organelles have characteristic morphologies that arise as a result of different local membrane curvatures. A striking example is the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), which consists of ER tubules with high curvature in cross-section, peripheral ER sheets with little curvature except at their edges and the nuclear envelope with low curvature except where the nuclear pores are inserted. The ER may be shaped by several mechanisms. ER tubules are often generated through their association with the cytoskeleton and stabilized by two families of integral membrane proteins, the reticulons and DP1/Yop1p. Similar to how curvature is generated in budding vesicles, these proteins may use scaffolding and hydrophobic insertion mechanisms to shape the lipid bilayer into tubules. In addition, proteins of the dynamin family may deform the ER membrane to generate a tubular network. Mechanisms affecting local membrane curvature may also shape peripheral ER sheets and the nuclear envelope as well as mitochondria and caveolae.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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