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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2002 Sep 2;1592(1):3-14.

Functions of outer membrane receptors in mitochondrial protein import.

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Department of Chemistry, Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya, 464-8602, Japan.


Most mitochondrial proteins are synthesized in the cytosol as precursor proteins and are imported into mitochondria. The targeting signals for mitochondria are encoded in the presequences or in the mature parts of the precursor proteins, and are decoded by the receptor sites in the translocator complex in the mitochondrial outer membrane. The recently determined NMR structure of the general import receptor Tom20 in a complex with a presequence peptide reveals that, although the amphiphilicity and positive charges of the presequence is essential for the import ability of the presequence, Tom20 recognizes only the amphiphilicity, but not the positive charges. This leads to a new model that different features associated with the mitochondrial targeting sequence of the precursor protein can be recognized by the mitochondrial protein import system in different steps during the import.

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