Cellular membranes are highly dynamic, undergoing both persistent and dynamic shape changes driven by specialized proteins. The observed membrane shaping can be simple deformations of existing shapes or membrane remodeling involving fission or fusion. Here we describe several mechanistic principles by which membrane shaping proteins act. We especially consider models for membrane bending and fission by EHD2 proteins and membrane bending by N-BAR domains. There are major challenges ahead to understand the general principles by which diverse membrane bending proteins act and to understand how some proteins appear to span multiple modes of action from driving curvature to inducing membrane remodeling.
Copyright 2009 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. All rights reserved.