Outer Membrane Vesicles of Bacteria: Structure, Biogenesis, and Function

  • Armaity NasarabadiEmail author
  • James E. Berleman
  • Manfred Auer
Reference work entry
Part of the Handbook of Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology book series (HHLM)


Extracellular membrane vesicles (EMVs), a characteristic present across each domain of life, are subcellular shuttles of biologically active cargo that have a variety of functions ranging from cell-to-cell communication to predatory behavior. Mechanism(s) governing EMV biogenesis remain elusive; however, several initiators have been determined such as stress stimuli, sensing a potential prey or intruder, and signaling molecules. Regardless of function, increased membrane curvature and bulging is a key characteristic that leads to budding and release. This chapter highlights the differences between biogenesis processes of the bacteria, archaea and eukarya. We then focus on the outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) specific to Gram-negative bacteria, including several mechanism(s) that potentially explain how the loss of crucial OM-peptidoglycan (PGN) and OM-PGN-inner membrane (IM) interactions can destabilize the OM to result in OMV biogenesis. Despite gaps present in the current understanding of these novel organelles, OMVs are one mechanism that allow microbial cells to function as multicellular organisms, as pathogens, and act as key predators in their environment. We discuss the importance in better understanding OMV biogenesis for greater insight into how this form of membrane architecture can be utilized for vaccines and targeted/specific treatments for infections.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Armaity Nasarabadi
    • 1
    Email author
  • James E. Berleman
    • 1
    • 2
  • Manfred Auer
    • 1
  1. 1.Lawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Saint Mary’s College of CaliforniaMoragaUSA

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