The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the largest organelle of the cell and participates in multiple essential functions, including the production of secretory proteins, lipid synthesis, and calcium storage. Sustaining proteostasis requires an intimate coupling with energy production. Mitochondrial respiration evolved to be functionally connected to ER physiology through a physical interface between both organelles known as mitochondria-associated membranes. This quasi-synaptic structure acts as a signaling hub that tunes the function of both organelles in a bidirectional manner and controls proteostasis, cell death pathways, and mitochondrial bioenergetics.
Here, we discuss the main signaling mechanisms governing interorganellar communication and their putative role in diseases including cancer and neurodegeneration.