Membrane contact sites, ancient and central hubs of cellular lipid logistics

Amrita Jain, Joost C.M. Holthuis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Membrane contact sites (MCSs) are regions where two organelles are closely apposed to facilitate molecular communication and promote a functional integration of compartmentalized cellular processes. There is growing evidence that MCSs play key roles in controlling intracellular lipid flows and distributions. Strikingly, even organelles connected by vesicular trafficking exchange lipids en bulk via lipid transfer proteins that operate at MCSs. Herein, we describe how MCSs developed into central hubs of lipid logistics during the evolution of eukaryotic cells. We then focus on how modern eukaryotes exploit MCSs to help solve a major logistical problem, namely to preserve the unique lipid mixtures of their early and late secretory organelles in the face of extensive vesicular trafficking. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Membrane Contact Sites edited by Christian Ungermann and Benoit Kornmann.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1450-1458
Number of pages9
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • Evolution
  • Golgi complex
  • Lipid transfer protein
  • Mitochondria
  • Secretory pathway
  • Sphingolipid biosynthesis


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