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J Biol Chem. 1978 Jan 10;253(1):305-10.

Heme is necessary for the accumulation and assembly of cytochrome c oxidase subunits in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.


The presence of cytochrome c oxidase subunits and the association of these subunits with each other was studied in a heme-deficient Saccharomyces cerevisiae mutant. This mutant had been isolated by Gollub et al. (1977) J. Biol. Chem. 252, 2846-2854) and had been shown lack delta-aminolevulinic acid synthetase. When grown in the absence of heme or heme precursors, the mutant is respiration-deficient, devoid of cytochrome absorption bands and auxotrophic for all those components whose biosynthesis is dependent on hemoproteins; when grown in the presence of heme or heme precursors, the mutant is phenotypically wild type. Upon growth of the mutant in the absence of heme synthesis, the mitochondria still contained two of the three mitochondrially made cytochrome c oxidase subunits (i.e. II and III) and at least one of the cytoplasmically made cytochrome c subunits (VI). The other subunits were either barely detectable (I, IV) or undetectable (V, VII). The residual subunits were apparently not assembled with each other since an antiserum directed mainly against Subunit VI failed to co-precipitate Subunits II and III which were still present. In contrast, growth of the mutant in the presence of delta-aminolevulinic acid led to the accumulation of active, fully assembled cytochrome c oxidase in the mitochondria. Heme a (or one of its precursors) thus controls the assembly of cytochrome c oxidase from its individual subunits.

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