, Volume 66, Issue 17, pp 2789-2804,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 28 Apr 2009

Biogenesis of β-barrel membrane proteins in bacteria and eukaryotes: evolutionary conservation and divergence


Membrane-embedded β-barrel proteins span the membrane via multiple amphipathic β-strands arranged in a cylindrical shape. These proteins are found in the outer membranes of Gram-negative bacteria, mitochondria and chloroplasts. This situation is thought to reflect the evolutionary origin of mitochondria and chloroplasts from Gram-negative bacterial endosymbionts. β-barrel proteins fulfil a variety of functions; among them are pore-forming proteins that allow the flux of metabolites across the membrane by passive diffusion, active transporters of siderophores, enzymes, structural proteins, and proteins that mediate protein translocation across or insertion into membranes. The biogenesis process of these proteins combines evolutionary conservation of the central elements with some noticeable differences in signals and machineries. This review summarizes our current knowledge of the functions and biogenesis of this special family of proteins.