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Mol Cell Biol. 2000 Apr;20(7):2488-97.

Presence of a member of the mitochondrial carrier family in hydrogenosomes: conservation of membrane-targeting pathways between hydrogenosomes and mitochondria.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


A number of microaerophilic eukaryotes lack mitochondria but possess another organelle involved in energy metabolism, the hydrogenosome. Limited phylogenetic analyses of nuclear genes support a common origin for these two organelles. We have identified a protein of the mitochondrial carrier family in the hydrogenosome of Trichomonas vaginalis and have shown that this protein, Hmp31, is phylogenetically related to the mitochondrial ADP-ATP carrier (AAC). We demonstrate that the hydrogenosomal AAC can be targeted to the inner membrane of mitochondria isolated from Saccharomyces cerevisiae through the Tim9-Tim10 import pathway used for the assembly of mitochondrial carrier proteins. Conversely, yeast mitochondrial AAC can be targeted into the membranes of hydrogenosomes. The hydrogenosomal AAC contains a cleavable, N-terminal presequence; however, this sequence is not necessary for targeting the protein to the organelle. These data indicate that the membrane-targeting signal(s) for hydrogenosomal AAC is internal, similar to that found for mitochondrial carrier proteins. Our findings indicate that the membrane carriers and membrane protein-targeting machinery of hydrogenosomes and mitochondria have a common evolutionary origin. Together, they provide strong evidence that a single endosymbiont evolved into a progenitor organelle in early eukaryotic cells that ultimately give rise to these two distinct organelles and support the hydrogen hypothesis for the origin of the eukaryotic cell.

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