The endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria are main hubs of eukaryotic membrane biogenesis which rely on lipid exchange via membrane contact sites, but the underpinning mechanisms remain poorly understood. In yeast, tethering and lipid transfer between the two organelles is mediated by the ER-mitochondria encounter structure ERMES, a four-subunit complex of unclear stoichiometry and architecture. We determined the molecular organization of ERMES within cells using integrative structural biology, combining quantitative live-imaging, cryo-correlative microscopy, subtomogram averaging and molecular modeling. ERMES assembles into approximately 25 discrete bridge-like complexes distributed irregularly across a contact site. Each bridge consists of three lipid-binding SMP domains arranged in zig-zag fashion. Our molecular model of ERMES reveals an unconventional restrained pathway for lipids. These findings resolve a supramolecular architecture controlling interorganelle lipid fluxes.
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Seeing is believing: Seeing a membrane contact site tether in its native environment provides surprising new insights into its functionRead the original sourceWas this evaluation helpful?