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Bioessays. 2000 Apr;22(4):364-71.

Targeting and insertion of nuclear-encoded preproteins into the mitochondrial outer membrane.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan.


Most mitochondrial proteins are synthesized in the cytosol as preproteins with a cleavable presequence and are delivered to the import receptors on the mitochondria by cytoplasmic import factors. The proteins are then imported to the intramitochondrial compartments by the import systems of the outer and inner membranes, TOM and TIM. Mitochondrial outer membrane proteins are synthesized without a cleavable presequence and most of them contain hydrophobic transmembrane domains, which, in conjunction with the flanking segments, function as the mitochondria import signals. Some of the proteins are inserted into the outer membrane by the TOM machinery; the import signal probably arrests further translocation and is released from the translocation channel to the lipid bilayer. The other proteins are inserted into the membrane by a novel pathway independent of the TOM machinery. This article reviews recent developments in the biogenesis of mitochondrial outer membrane proteins.

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