Membrane curvature and its generation by BAR proteins

Trends Biochem Sci. 2012 Dec;37(12):526-33. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2012.09.001. Epub 2012 Oct 8.


Membranes are flexible barriers that surround the cell and its compartments. To execute vital functions such as locomotion or receptor turnover, cells need to control the shapes of their membranes. In part, this control is achieved through membrane-bending proteins, such as the Bin/amphiphysin/Rvs (BAR) domain proteins. Many open questions remain about the mechanisms by which membrane-bending proteins function. Addressing this shortfall, recent structures of BAR protein:membrane complexes support existing mechanistic models, but also produced novel insights into how BAR domain proteins sense, stabilize, and generate curvature. Here we review these recent findings, focusing on how BAR proteins interact with the membrane, and how the resulting scaffold structures might aid the recruitment of other proteins to the sites where membranes are bent.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / chemistry*
  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry*
  • Drosophila Proteins / chemistry
  • Endocytosis
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / chemistry
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • bin protein, Drosophila
  • amphiphysin