Advances in understanding bacterial outer-membrane biogenesis

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2006 Jan;4(1):57-66. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro1322.


The outer membrane of gram-negative bacteria such as Escherichia coli serves as a protective barrier that controls the influx and efflux of solutes. This allows the bacteria to inhabit several different, and often hostile, environments. The assembly of the E. coli outer membrane has been difficult to study using traditional genetic and biochemical methods, and how all its components reach the outer membrane after being synthesized in the cytoplasm and cytoplasmic membrane, how they are assembled in an environment that is devoid of an obvious energy source, and how assembly proceeds without disrupting the integrity of this essential cellular structure are all fundamental questions that remain unanswered. Here, we review the new approaches that have led to the recent discovery of components of the machinery involved in the biogenesis of this distinctive cellular organelle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Cell Membrane Permeability
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / genetics
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation


  • Bacterial Proteins