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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2008 Apr;1783(4):601-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2007.12.005. Epub 2007 Dec 15.

The Erv1-Mia40 disulfide relay system in the intermembrane space of mitochondria.

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Adolf-Butenandt-Institut für Physiologische Chemie, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Butenandtstrasse 5, 81377 München, Germany.


The compartment between the outer and the inner membranes of mitochondria, the intermembrane space (IMS), harbours a variety of proteins that contain disulfide bonds. Many of these proteins possess a conserved twin Cx(3)C motif or twin Cx(9)C motif. Recently, a disulfide relay system in the IMS has been identified which consists of two essential components, the sulfhydryl oxidase Erv1 and the redox-regulated import receptor Mia40/Tim40. The disulfide relay system drives the import of these cysteine-rich proteins into the IMS of mitochondria by an oxidative folding mechanism. In order to enable Mia40 to perform the oxidation of substrate proteins, the sulfhydryl oxidase Erv1 mediates the oxidation of Mia40 in a disulfide transfer reaction. To recycle Erv1 into its oxidized form, electrons are transferred to cytochrome c connecting the disulfide relay system to the electron transport chain of mitochondria. Despite the lack of homology of the components, the disulfide relay system in the IMS resembles the oxidation system in the periplasm of bacteria presumably reflecting the evolutionary origin of the IMS from the bacterial periplasm.

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