IntEResting structures: formation and applications of organised smooth endoplasmic reticulum in plant cells.
Sandor A., Fricker MD., Kriechbaumer V., Sweetlove LJ.
The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is an organelle with remarkable plasticity, capable of rapidly changing its structure to accommodate different functions based on intra- and extracellular cues. One of the ER structures observed in plants is known as 'organised smooth endoplasmic reticulum' (OSER), consisting of symmetrically stacked ER membrane arrays. In plants, these structures were first described in certain specialised tissues, e.g. the sieve elements of the phloem, and more recently in transgenic plants overexpressing ER membrane resident proteins. To date, much of the investigation of OSER focused on yeast and animal cells but research into plant OSER has started to grow. In this update, we give a succinct overview of research into the OSER phenomenon in plant cells with case studies highlighting both native and synthetic occurrences of OSER. We also assess the primary driving forces that trigger the formation of OSER, collating evidence from the literature to compare two competing theories for the origin of OSER: that OSER formation is initiated by oligomerizing protein accumulation in the ER membrane or that OSER is the result of ER membrane proliferation. This has long been a source of controversy in the field and here we suggest a way to integrate arguments from both sides into a single unifying theory. Finally, we discuss the potential biotechnological uses of OSER as a tool for the nascent plant synthetic biology field with possible applications as a synthetic microdomain for metabolic engineering and as an extensive membrane surface for synthetic chemistry or protein accumulation.