Bacterial microcompartments: tiny organelles with big potential

Nolan W. Kennedy, Carolyn E. Mills, Taylor M. Nichols, Charlotte H. Abrahamson, Danielle Tullman-Ercek

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Organization of metabolic processes within the space of a cell is critical for the survival of many organisms. In bacteria, spatial organization is achieved via proteinaceous organelles called bacterial microcompartments, which encapsulate pathway enzymes, substrates, and co-factors to drive the safe and efficient metabolism of niche carbon sources. Microcompartments are self-assembled from shell proteins that encapsulate a core comprising various enzymes. This review discusses how recent advances in understanding microcompartment structure and assembly have informed engineering efforts to repurpose compartments and compartment-based structures for non-native functions. These advances, both in understanding of the native structure and function of compartments, as well as in the engineering of new functions, will pave the way for the use of these structures in bacterial cell factories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-42
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Microbiology
StatePublished - Oct 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Microbiology


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