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Mol Cell Biol. 2001 Feb;21(4):1089-97.

The yeast mitochondrial carrier Leu5p and its human homologue Graves' disease protein are required for accumulation of coenzyme A in the matrix.

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Institut für Zytobiologie und Zytopathologie der Philipps-Universität Marburg, 35033 Marburg, Germany.


The transport of metabolites, coenzymes, and ions across the mitochondrial inner membrane is still poorly understood. In most cases, membrane transport is facilitated by the so-called mitochondrial carrier proteins. The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae contains 35 members of the carrier family, but a function has been identified for only 13 proteins. Here, we investigated the yeast carrier Leu5p (encoded by the gene YHR002w) and its close human homologue Graves' disease protein. Leu5p is inserted into the mitochondrial inner membrane along the specialized import pathway used by carrier proteins. Deletion of LEU5 (strain Deltaleu5) was accompanied by a 15-fold reduction of mitochondrial coenzyme A (CoA) levels but did not affect the cytosolic CoA content. As a consequence, the activities of several mitochondrial CoA-dependent enzymes were strongly decreased in Deltaleu5 cells. Our in vitro and in vivo analyses assign a function to Leu5p in the accumulation of CoA in mitochondria, presumably by serving as a transporter of CoA or a precursor thereof. Expression of the Graves' disease protein in Deltaleu5 cells can replace the function of Leu5p, demonstrating that the human protein represents the orthologue of yeast Leu5p. The function of the human protein might not be directly linked to the disease, as antisera derived from patients with active Graves' disease do not recognize the protein after expression in yeast, suggesting that it does not represent a major autoantigen. The two carrier proteins characterized herein are the first components for which a role in the subcellular distribution of CoA has been identified.

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