Techniques for studying membrane pores

Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2021 Aug;69:108-116. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2021 May 1.


Pore-forming proteins (PFPs) are of special interest because of the association of their activity with the disruption of the membrane impermeability barrier and cell death. They generally convert from a monomeric, soluble form into transmembrane oligomers that induce the opening of membrane pores. The study of pore formation in membranes with molecular detail remains a challenging endeavor because of its highly dynamic and complex nature, usually involving diverse oligomeric structures with different functionalities. Here we discuss current methods applied for the structural and functional characterization of PFPs at the individual vesicle and cell level. We highlight how the development of high-resolution and single-molecule imaging techniques allows the analysis of the structural organization of protein oligomers and pore entities in lipid membranes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Porins*


  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Porins