Posted on November 14, 2012 by Tia Lalani

Join Augustana cell biology professor Dr. Jeremy Wideman as he explores the encounter structure between endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria. The talk is interdisciplinary in nature and will include aspects of cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, bioinformatics and molecular evolution/phylogeny. This will interest students that are contemplating going into graduate school and will give an idea …

Join Augustana cell biology professor Dr. Jeremy Wideman as he explores the encounter structure between endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria. The talk is interdisciplinary in nature and will include aspects of cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, bioinformatics and molecular evolution/phylogeny.

This will interest students that are contemplating going into graduate school and will give an idea of the kind of work that can be done during a PhD in the biological sciences.

Thursday, November 22 at 12:15 – 1:15 pm
Dr. Roger Epp Conference Room

Abstract:

The ER-mitochondria encounter structure: Function and Evolution

The physical association between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria has been observed
for decades. These ER-mitochondria contact sites have been implicated in many different processes
including mitochondrial inheritance, mitochondrial fission, maintaining mitochondrial morphology,
calcium and phospholipid homeostasis, apoptosis as well as mitochondrial protein import. However,
since disruption of these sites results in pleiotropic effects, it has been difficult to determine their
primary function. The proteins that maintain ER-mitochondria contact sites have recently been
identified in both mammals and fungi. In fungi, the ER-mitochondria encounter structure (ERMES) has
been shown to tether the ER membrane to the MOM. The ERMES is composed of an ER membrane
protein, Mmm1; two mitochondrial outer membrane (MOM) proteins, Mmm2 and Mdm10; and a
bridge protein, Mdm12. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae research has suggested that the ERMES primarily
functions in the transfer of phospholipids between the ER and mitochondria; however, these data
are currently in dispute. In Neurospora crassa, my data suggest that the ERMES is a multifunctional
complex that is involved in both the maintenance of mitochondrial morphology and MOM protein
import and assembly. Since results in N. crassa contradict some results seen in S. cerevisiae, and results
in S. cerevisiae are currently disputed, it is obvious that further work must be done to determine the
conserved function of ERMES. Importantly, it is generally accepted that the ERMES is a fungal-specific
complex. Using bioinformatic and phylogenetic techniques I have recently sought to identify ERMES
homologues in other eukaryote lineages.


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