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J Biol Chem. 1995 Jul 7;270(27):16347-54.

A 43-kDa protein related to c-Erb A alpha 1 is located in the mitochondrial matrix of rat liver.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Différenciation Cellulaire et Croissance, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), Montpellier, France.


In order to characterize Sterling's triiodothyronine (T3) mitochondrial receptor using photoaffinity labeling, we observed two specific T3-binding proteins in the inner membrane (28 kDa) and in the matrix (43 kDa) of rat liver mitochondria. Western blots and immunoprecipitation using antibodies raised against the T3-binding domain of the T3 nuclear receptor c-Erb A alpha 1 indicated that at least the 43-kDa protein was c-Erb A alpha 1-related. In addition, gel mobility shift assays demonstrated the occurrence of a c-Erb A alpha 1-related mitochondrial protein that specifically binds to a natural or a palindromic thyroid-responsive element. Moreover, this protein specifically binds to a direct repeat 2 sequence located in the D-loop of the mitochondrial genome. Furthermore, electron microscopy studies allowed the direct observation of a c-Erb A-related protein in mitochondria. Lastly, the relative amounts of the 43-kDa protein related to c-Erb A alpha 1 were in good correlation with the known mitochondrial mass in three typical tissues. Interestingly, expression of a truncated form of the c-Erb A alpha 1 nuclear receptor in CV1 cells was associated with a mitochondrial localization and a stimulation of mitochondrial activity. These results supply evidence of the localization of a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily in the mitochondrial matrix involved in the regulation of mitochondrial activity that could act as a mitochondrial T3-dependent transcription factor.

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