Advances in computational design methods have made possible extensive engineering of soluble proteins, but designed β-barrel membrane proteins await improvements in our understanding of the sequence determinants of folding and stability. A subset of the amino acid residues of membrane proteins interact with the cell membrane, and the design rules that govern this lipid-facing surface are poorly understood. We applied a residue-level depth potential for β-barrel membrane proteins to the complete redesign of the lipid-facing surface of
Escherichia coliOmpA. Initial designs failed to fold correctly, but reversion of a small number of mutations indicated by backcross experiments yielded designs with substitutions to up to 60% of the surface that did support folding and membrane insertion.