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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1999 Nov 16;1422(3):235-54.

Mechanisms of protein translocation into mitochondria.

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  • 1Institut für Biochemie und Molekularbiologie, Universität Freiburg, Hermann-Herder-Str. 7, D-79104, Freiburg, Germany. voos@ruf.uni-freiburg.de


Mitochondrial biogenesis utilizes a complex proteinaceous machinery for the import of cytosolically synthesized preproteins. At least three large multisubunit protein complexes, one in the outer membrane and two in the inner membrane, have been identified. These translocase complexes cooperate with soluble proteins from the cytosol, the intermembrane space and the matrix. The translocation of presequence-containing preproteins through the outer membrane channel includes successive electrostatic interactions of the charged mitochondrial targeting sequence with a chain of import components. Translocation across the inner mitochondrial membrane utilizes the energy of the proton motive force of the inner membrane and the hydrolysis of ATP. The matrix chaperone system of the mitochondrial heat shock protein 70 forms an ATP-dependent import motor by interaction with the polypeptide chain in transit and components of the inner membrane translocase. The precursors of integral inner membrane proteins of the metabolite carrier family interact with newly identified import components of the intermembrane space and are inserted into the inner membrane by a second translocase complex. A comparison of the full set of import components between the yeast Sacccharomyces cerevisiae and the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans demonstrates an evolutionary conservation of most components of the mitochondrial import machinery with a possible greater divergence for the import pathway of the inner membrane carrier proteins.

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