Encyclopedia of Biophysics

Living Edition
| Editors: Gordon Roberts, Anthony Watts, European Biophysical Societies

Membrane Proteins: Structure and Organization

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-35943-9_748-1



Membrane proteins are those which are integral to, or associated with, the various lipid membranes within and around cells.


Membrane proteins are classified by their method of attachment into four main groups: integral, peripheral, partially penetrating, and lipid-anchored. Additionally, integral proteins can be further divided by the type of fold they possess – either alpha-helical or beta-barrel. These proteins have been challenging to study due to their hydrophobic nature and low natural abundance.

Integral Membrane Proteins

Integral membrane proteins constitute a significant proportion of the total protein of most cells and are characterized by insertion through the plasma membrane, resulting in permanent attachment. As such their removal can require relatively harsh methods including detergent solubilization or the use of nonpolar solvents. The advent of some detergent-free methods has enabled the extraction of...
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Life and Health SciencesAston UniversityBirminghamUK
  2. 2.Biomembrane Structure Unit, Department of BiochemistryUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Anthony Watts
    • 1
  1. 1.Biomembrane Structure Unit, Department of BiochemistryUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK