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FEBS Lett. 2003 Dec 18;555(3):511-5.

Multiple functions of tail-anchor domains of mitochondrial outer membrane proteins.

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  • 1Institut für Physiologische Chemie der Universität München, Butenandtstr. 5, D-81377, Munich, Germany.


Tail-anchored proteins form a distinct class of membrane proteins that have a single membrane anchor sequence at their C-terminus, the tail-anchor. Their N-terminal portion is exposed to the cytosol. We have studied the roles of tail-anchor domains of proteins residing in the mitochondrial outer membrane. Four distinct functions of the tail-anchor domain were identified. First, the domain mediates the targeting to mitochondria in a process that probably requires a net positive charge at the C-terminally flanking segment. Second, tail-anchor domains facilitate the insertion into the mitochondrial outer membrane. Third, the tail-anchor is responsible for the assembly of the respective protein into functional multi-subunit complexes; and fourth, tail-anchor domains can stabilize such complexes.

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