Bacterial microcompartments and the modular construction of microbial metabolism

Trends Microbiol. 2015 Jan;23(1):22-34. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2014.10.003. Epub 2014 Nov 14.


Bacterial microcompartments (BMCs) are protein-bound organelles predicted to be present across 23 bacterial phyla. BMCs facilitate carbon fixation as well as the aerobic and anaerobic catabolism of a variety of organic compounds. These functions have been linked to ecological nutrient cycling, symbiosis, pathogenesis, and cardiovascular disease. Within bacterial cells, BMCs are metabolic modules that can be further dissociated into their constituent structural and functional protein domains. Viewing BMCs as genetic, structural, functional, and evolutionary modules provides a framework for understanding both BMC-mediated metabolism and for adapting their architectures for applications in synthetic biology.

Keywords: bacterial microcompartments; bacterial organelles; carboxysomes; metabolosomes; synthetic biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / cytology*
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Cell Compartmentation*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Engineering
  • Synthetic Biology


  • Bacterial Proteins