Inside every cell is a complex infrastructure of organelles carrying out different functions. Organelles must exchange signals and materials to make the cell operate correctly. New technologies are allowing researchers to see and understand the networks that connect these organelles, allowing the scientists to build maps of the trade routes that exist within a cell. A study to be published in the September 29, 2017 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, and published online on July 31, 2017, reports the use of an emerging method to identify proteins that allows two organelles, the mitochondria and the endoplasmic reticulum, to attach to each other. The open-access JBC article is titled “Ascorbate Peroxidase Proximity Labeling Coupled with Biochemical Fractionation Identifies Promoters of Endoplasmic Reticulum Mitochondrial Contacts.” "Think of [an organelle] like a ferry docking at one site, unloading and loading passengers and cars, and then going to another site and doing the same thing," said Dr. Jeffrey Golden, a professor at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School who oversaw the work. "Their ability to dock, load, and unload cargo requires guides or ramps of specific width and heights that connect the boat and land or they cannot freely load and unload." Contact points between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria are those "ramps" and "guides" that enable these contacts.
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