Since the discovery of the essential role of the β-barrel assembly machinery (BAM) for the membrane insertion of outer membrane proteins (OMPs) that are unrelated in sequence, members of this universally conserved family dominate discussions on OMP assembly in bacteria, mitochondria and chloroplasts. However, several multimeric bacterial OMPs assemble independently of the catalyzing BAM-component BamA. Recent progress on this alternative pathway is reviewed here, and a model for BAM-independent assembly for multimeric OMPs is proposed in which monomer delivery to the membrane and stable prepore formation are key steps towards productive membrane insertion.

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