Membrane-bending proteins Membrane-bending proteins

William A. Prinz, Jenny E. Hinshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Cellular membranes can assume a number of highly dynamic shapes. Many cellular processes also require transient membrane deformations. Membrane shape is determined by the complex interactions of proteins and lipids. A number of families of proteins that directly bend membranes have been identified. Most associate transiently with membranes and deform them. These proteins work by one or more of three types of mechanisms. First, some bend membranes by inserting amphipathic domains into one of the leaflets of the bilayer; increasing the area of only one leaflet causes the membrane to bend. Second, some proteins form a rigid scaffold that deforms the underlying membrane or stabilizes an already bent membrane. Third, some proteins may deform membranes by clustering lipids or by affecting lipid ordering in membranes. Still other proteins may use novel but poorly understood mechanisms. In this review, we summarize what is known about how different families of proteins bend membranes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-291
Number of pages14
JournalCritical reviews in biochemistry and molecular biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Bending
  • Bilayer
  • Binding
  • Curvature
  • Membrane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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