The tubular network of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is formed by connecting ER tubules through three-way junctions. Two classes of the conserved ER membrane proteins, atlastins and lunapark, have been shown to reside at the three-way junctions so far and be involved in the generation and stabilization of the three-way junctions. In this study, we report TMCC3 (transmembrane and coiled-coil domain family 3), a member of the TEX28 family, as another ER membrane protein that resides at the three-way junctions in mammalian cells. When the TEX28 family members were transfected into U2OS cells, TMCC3 specifically localized at the three-way junctions in the peripheral ER. TMCC3 bound to atlastins through the C-terminal transmembrane domains. A TMCC3 mutant lacking the N-terminal coiled-coil domain abolished localization to the three-way junctions, suggesting that TMCC3 localized independently of binding to atlastins. TMCC3 knockdown caused a decrease in the number of three-way junctions and expansion of ER sheets, leading to a reduction of the tubular ER network in U2OS cells. The TMCC3 knockdown phenotype was partially rescued by the overexpression of atlastin-2, suggesting that TMCC3 knockdown would decrease the activity of atlastins. These results indicate that TMCC3 localizes at the three-way junctions for the proper tubular ER network.

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