Bacterial microcompartments are large proteinaceous structures that act as metabolic organelles in many bacterial cells. A shell or capsid, which is composed of a few thousand protein subunits, surrounds a series of sequentially acting enzymes and controls the diffusion of substrates and products into and out of the lumen. The carboxysome and the propanediol utilization microcompartment represent two well-studied systems among seven or more distinct types that can be delineated presently. Recent structural studies have highlighted a number of sophisticated mechanisms that underlie the function of bacterial microcompartment shell proteins. This review updates our understanding of bacterial microcompartment shells, how they are assembled, and how they carry out their functions in molecular transport and enzyme organization.
Copyright © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.