Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 67, Issue 14, pp 2343-2362

First online:

Biogenesis of bacterial inner-membrane proteins

  • Sandra J. FaceyAffiliated withInstitute of Microbiology, University of Hohenheim
  • , Andreas KuhnAffiliated withInstitute of Microbiology, University of Hohenheim Email author 

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All cells must traffic proteins into and across their membranes. In bacteria, several pathways have evolved to enable protein transfer across the inner membrane, the periplasm, and the outer membrane. The major route of protein translocation in and across the cytoplasmic membrane is the general secretion pathway (Sec-pathway). The biogenesis of membrane proteins not only requires protein translocation but also coordinated targeting to the membrane beforehand and folding and assembly into their protein complexes afterwards to function properly in the cell. All these processes are responsible for the biogenesis of membrane proteins that mediate essential functions of the cell such as selective transport, energy conversion, cell division, extracellular signal sensing, and motility. This review will highlight the most recent developments on the structure and function of bacterial membrane proteins, focusing on the journey that integral membrane proteins take to find their final destination in the inner membrane.


Membrane protein biogenesis Membrane protein structure Membrane targeting Sec complex Signal recognition particle Topology YidC insertase