Mitochondria are dynamic organelles with essential roles in signaling and metabolism. We recently identified a cellular structure called the mitochondrial-derived compartment (MDC) that is generated from mitochondria in response to amino acid overabundance stress. How cells form MDCs is unclear. Here, we show that MDCs are dynamic structures that form and stably persist at sites of contact between the ER and mitochondria. MDC biogenesis requires the ER–mitochondria encounter structure (ERMES) and the conserved GTPase Gem1, factors previously implicated in lipid exchange and membrane tethering at ER–mitochondria contacts. Interestingly, common genetic suppressors of abnormalities displayed by ERMES mutants exhibit distinct abilities to rescue MDC formation in ERMES-depleted strains and are incapable of rescuing MDC formation in cells lacking Gem1. Thus, the function of ERMES and Gem1 in MDC biogenesis may extend beyond their conventional role in maintaining mitochondrial phospholipid homeostasis. Overall, this study identifies an important function for ER–mitochondria contacts in the biogenesis of MDCs.

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