Bacterial mechanosensitive channels: progress towards an understanding of their roles in cell physiology

Ian R. Booth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Bacterial mechanosensitive channels sense the changes in lateral tension in the bilayer of the cytoplasmic membrane generated by rapid water flow into the cell. Two major structural families are found widely distributed across bacteria and archaea: MscL and MscS. Our understanding of the mechanisms of gating has advanced rapidly through genetic analysis, structural biology and electrophysiology. It is only recently that the analysis of the physiological roles of the channels has kept pace with mechanistic studies. Recent advances have increased our understanding of the role of the channels in preventing structural perturbation during osmotic transitions and its relationship to water flow across the membrane. It is to these recent developments that this review is dedicated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-22
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Microbiology
Early online date6 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

Bibliographical note

Open Access funded by Wellcome Trust
Under a Creative Commons license

Thanks to all members of the Aberdeen group, collaborators and friends whose discussions have spurred the development of the MS channel field. Special thanks to Doug Rees, Diane Newman and Rob Phillips for their support and hospitality at Caltech. Unique insights have been provided by members of the Newman and Phillips research groups, particularly, Caj Neubauer, Gargi Kulkarni and Megan Bergkessel, Heun Jin Lee and Maja Bialecka-Fornal. The author's research on MS channels is supported by a grant from The Wellcome Trust (WT092552MA) and the BBSRC (BB/H017917/1). The author is a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellow and this work was supported in part by a CEMI Visiting Faculty Fellowship from Caltech.


  • Escherichia-Coli
  • osmotic downshock
  • outer-membrane
  • MSCS
  • permeability
  • peptidoglycan
  • adaptation
  • organization
  • microscopy
  • protection


Dive into the research topics of 'Bacterial mechanosensitive channels: progress towards an understanding of their roles in cell physiology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this