Mitochondrial ER contacts are crucial for mitophagy in yeast

Stefan Böckler, Benedikt Westermann
Developmental Cell 2014 February 24, 28 (4): 450-8
Damaged and superfluous mitochondria are removed from the cell by selective autophagy, a process termed mitophagy. This serves to maintain the proper quantity and quality of the organelle. Mitophagy is executed by an evolutionarily conserved pathway, many components of which were first discovered and characterized in yeast. In a systematic screen of a yeast deletion collection, we identified ERMES, a complex connecting mitochondria and the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), as an important factor contributing to the selective degradation of mitochondria. We show that efficient mitophagy depends on mitochondrial ER tethering. ERMES colocalizes with sites of mitophagosome biogenesis and affects the formation of the isolation membrane that engulfs the organelles destined for degradation. These results provide insights into the cellular mechanisms that govern organelle homeostasis.

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