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J Biol Chem. 2000 Feb 18;275(7):4571-8.

Identification of Cox20p, a novel protein involved in the maturation and assembly of cytochrome oxidase subunit 2.

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  • 1Institut für Physiologische Chemie der Universität München, Goethestrasse 33, 80336 München, Germany.


We have identified Cox20p, a 23.8-kDa protein of the mitochondrial inner membrane that is involved in the biogenesis of the yeast cytochrome oxidase complex. Cytochrome oxidase subunit 2 (Cox2p) accumulates as a precursor in cox20 mutants, suggesting a defect in biogenesis of this mitochondrially encoded protein. The inability of cox20 mutants to process the subunit 2 precursor (pCox2p) is not due to impaired export of the protein across the inner membrane or to an inactive Imp1p/Imp2p peptidase. Rather, Cox20p specifically binds the newly synthesized pCox2p, a step required to present the exported pCox2p as a substrate to the Imp1p peptidase. All of the endogenous pCox2p accumulated in an Deltaimp1 mutant, and a small fraction of Cox2p in wild type yeast, is detected in a complex with Cox20p. Following maturation Cox2p remained associated with Cox20p, prior to assembling into the cytochrome oxidase complex. We propose that Cox20p acts as a membrane-bound chaperone necessary for cleavage of pCox2p and for interaction of the mature protein with other subunits of cytochrome oxidase in a later step of the assembly process.

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