Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a multifaceted organelle that regulates protein synthesis and trafficking, cellular responses to stress, and intracellular Ca2+ levels. In neurons, it is distributed between the cellular compartments that regulate plasticity and survival, which include axons, dendrites, growth cones and synaptic terminals. Intriguing communication networks between ER, mitochondria and plasma membrane are being revealed that provide mechanisms for the precise regulation of temporal and spatial aspects of Ca2+ signaling. Alterations in Ca2+ homeostasis in ER contribute to neuronal apoptosis and excitotoxicity, and are being linked to the pathogenesis of several different neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's disease and stroke.
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