Membranes of intracellular organelles are characterized by large curvatures with radii of the order of 10-30nm. While, generally, membrane curvature can be a consequence of any asymmetry between the membrane monolayers, generation of large curvatures requires the action of mechanisms based on specialized proteins. Here we discuss the three most relevant classes of such mechanisms with emphasis on the physical requirements for proteins to be effective in generation of membrane curvature. We provide new quantitative estimates of membrane bending by shallow hydrophobic insertions and compare the efficiency of the insertion mechanism with those of the protein scaffolding and crowding mechanisms.
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