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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2002 Sep 2;1592(1):89-96.

Membrane protein degradation by AAA proteases in mitochondria.

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Institut für Genetik, Universität zu Köln, Zülpicher Str. 47, D-50674, Cologne, Germany.


The inner membrane of mitochondria is one of the protein's richest cellular membranes. The biogenesis of the respiratory chain and ATP-synthase complexes present in this membrane is an intricate process requiring the coordinated function of various membrane-bound proteins including protein translocases and assembly factors. It is therefore not surprising that a distinct quality control system is present in this membrane that selectively removes nonassembled polypeptides and prevents their possibly deleterious accumulation in the membrane. The key components of this system are two AAA proteases, membrane-embedded ATP-dependent proteolytic complexes, which expose their catalytic sites at opposite membrane surfaces. Other components include the prohibitin complex with apparently chaperone-like properties and a regulatory function during proteolysis and a recently identified ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter that exports peptides derived from the degradation of membrane proteins from the matrix to the intermembrane space. All of these components are highly conserved during evolution and appear to be ubiquitously present in mitochondria of eukaryotic cells, indicating important cellular functions. This review will summarize our current understanding of this proteolytic system and, in particular, focus on the mechanisms guiding the degradation of membrane proteins by AAA proteases.

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