Working Paper Review Version 2 This version is not peer-reviewed

Inducible Intracellular Membranes: Molecular Aspects and Emerging Applications

Version 1 : Received: 20 March 2020 / Approved: 23 March 2020 / Online: 23 March 2020 (03:09:35 CET)
Version 2 : Received: 22 August 2020 / Approved: 25 August 2020 / Online: 25 August 2020 (10:03:25 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.


Membrane remodeling and phospholipid biosynthesis are normally tightly regulated to maintain the shape and function of cells. Indeed, different physiological mechanisms ensure a precise coordination between de novo phospholipid biosynthesis and modulation of membrane morphology. Interestingly, the overproduction of certain membrane proteins hijack these regulation networks, leading to the formation of impressive intracellular membrane structures in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. The proteins triggering an abnormal accumulation of membrane structures inside the cells (or membrane proliferation) share two major common features: 1) they promote the formation of highly curved membrane domains and 2) they lead to an enrichment in anionic, cone-shaped phospholipids (cardiolipin or phosphatidic acid) in the newly formed membranes. Taking into account the available examples of membrane proliferation upon protein overproduction, together with the latest biochemical, biophysical and structural data, we explore the relationship between protein synthesis and membrane biogenesis. We propose a mechanism for the formation of these non-physiological intracellular membranes that shares similarities with natural inner membrane structures found in α-proteobacteria, mitochondria and some viruses-infected cells, pointing towards a conserved feature through evolution. We hope that the information discussed in this review will give a better grasp of the biophysical mechanisms behind physiological and induced intracellular membrane proliferation, and inspire new applications, either for academia (high-yield membrane protein production and nanovesicle production) or industry (biofuel production and vaccine preparation).


membrane remodeling; membrane biosynthesis; membrane curvature; phospholipids; inner membrane; lipid biosynthesis


Biology and Life Sciences, Immunology and Microbiology

Comments (1)

Comment 1
Received: 25 August 2020
Commenter: Jorge Royes Mir
Commenter's Conflict of Interests: Author
Comment: The title has been updated.
Some subheadings have been added in section 1.1, 1.2 and 2.1.
Minor corrections on wording for clarity.
Graphical abstract added.
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