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Architecture of Membrane Proteins

  1. Maksim A Shlykov1,2,
  2. Daniel C Yee2,
  3. Milton H Saier Jr2

Published Online: 19 SEP 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0004103



How to Cite

Shlykov, M. A., Yee, D. C. and Saier, M. H. 2013. Architecture of Membrane Proteins. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

  2. 2

    University of California at San Diego, San Diego, California, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 19 SEP 2013


Biological membranes are exquisite multifunctional structures that border all living cells and intracellular organelles in virtually all types of organisms from bacteria to man. In addition to the fundamental phospholipid unit, present in most bacteria and eukaryotes, and the dominant ether lipids present in many archaea, other lipids, proteins, carbohydrates and sterols contribute to the lipid bilayer. Most important, from a functional perspective, are the specialised membrane proteins of diverse functions that are embedded in or associated with membranes. Membrane architectural features and the methods used to gain relevant information are presented. Integral, peripheral and lipid-anchored membrane proteins as well as the inhomogeneity of membranes are considered from structural, functional and evolutionary standpoints. Transport proteins that provide avenues of communication and material exchange, and toxins that target membranes and kill cells by creating transmembrane pores, are discussed in some detail, especially from mechanistic points of view.

Key Concepts:

  • Architecture of membranes and membrane proteins.

  • Functions of transmembrane proteins.

  • Membrane microcompartmentalisation.

  • Protein pore-forming toxins.

  • Lipid rafts and caveolae.


  • lipid bilayer;
  • transporters;
  • pore-forming toxins;
  • membrane lipid rafts;
  • caveolae