ER fatalities—The role of ER-mitochondrial contact sites in yeast life and death decisions

Daniel G.J. Smethurst, Katrina F. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Following extracellular stress signals, all eukaryotic cells choose whether to elicit a pro-survival or pro-death response. The decision over which path to take is governed by the severity and duration of the damage. In response to mild stress, pro-survival programs are initiated (unfolded protein response, autophagy, mitophagy) whereas severe or chronic stress forces the cell to abandon these adaptive programs and shift towards regulated cell death to remove irreversibly damaged cells. Both pro-survival and pro-death programs involve regulated communication between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria. In yeast, recent data suggest this inter-organelle contact is facilitated by the endoplasmic reticulum mitochondria encounter structure (ERMES). These membrane contacts are not only important for the exchange of cellular signals, but also play a role in mitochondrial tethering during mitophagy, mitochondrial fission and mitochondrial inheritance. This review focuses on recent findings in yeast that shed light on how ER-mitochondrial communication mediates critical cell fate decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-233
Number of pages9
JournalMechanisms of Ageing and Development
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aging
  • Developmental Biology


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