Outer Membrane Biogenesis

Anna Konovalova, Daniel E. Kahne, Thomas J. Silhavy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

195 Scopus citations


The hallmark of gram-negative bacteria and organelles such as mitochondria and chloroplasts is the presence of an outer membrane. In bacteria such as Escherichia coli, the outer membrane is a unique asymmetric lipid bilayer with lipopolysaccharide in the outer leaflet. Integral transmembrane proteins assume a β-barrel structure, and their assembly is catalyzed by the heteropentameric Bam complex containing the outer membrane protein BamA and four lipoproteins, BamB-E. How the Bam complex assembles a great diversity of outer membrane proteins into a membrane without an obvious energy source is a particularly challenging problem, because folding intermediates are predicted to be unstable in either an aqueous or a hydrophobic environment. Two models have been put forward: the budding model, based largely on structural data, and the BamA assisted model, based on genetic and biochemical studies. Here we offer a critical discussion of the pros and cons of each.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-556
Number of pages18
JournalAnnual Review of Microbiology
StatePublished - Sep 8 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology


  • Envelope biogenesis
  • Lateral gate
  • LptD
  • Outer membrane protein
  • Protein folding


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