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J Biol Chem. 2008 Feb 15;283(7):3799-807. Epub 2007 Dec 6.

Tom20 and Tom22 share the common signal recognition pathway in mitochondrial protein import.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-8602, Japan.


Precise targeting of mitochondrial precursor proteins to mitochondria requires receptor functions of Tom20, Tom22, and Tom70 on the mitochondrial surface. Tom20 is a major import receptor that recognizes preferentially mitochondrial presequences, and Tom70 is a specialized receptor that recognizes presequence-less inner membrane proteins. The cytosolic domain of Tom22 appears to function as a receptor in cooperation with Tom20, but how its substrate specificity differs from that of Tom20 remains unclear. To reveal possible differences in substrate specificities between Tom20 and Tom22, if any, we deleted the receptor domain of Tom20 or Tom22 in mitochondria in vitro by introducing cleavage sites for a tobacco etch virus protease between the receptor domains and transmembrane segments of Tom20 and Tom22. Then mitochondria without the receptor domain of Tom20 or Tom22 were analyzed for their abilities to import various mitochondrial precursor proteins targeted to different mitochondrial subcompartments in vitro. The effects of deletion of the receptor domains on the import of different mitochondrial proteins for different import pathways were quite similar between Tom20 and Tom22. Therefore Tom20 and Tom22 are apparently involved in the same step or sequential steps along the same pathway of targeting signal recognition in import.

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