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Trends Biochem Sci. 2008 Jul;33(7):320-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2008.04.010. Epub 2008 May 29.

Recent advances in tRNA mitochondrial import.

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Institut de Biologie Moléculaire des Plantes, Unité Propre de Recherche 2357 du CNRS, associated with Louis Pasteur University, 12 rue du Général Zimmer, 67084 Strasbourg Cedex, France.


In many eukaryotes, tRNA import from the cytosol into mitochondria is essential for mitochondrial biogenesis and, consequently, for cell viability. Recent work has begun to unravel the molecular mechanisms involved in tRNA transport in yeast, trypanosomatids and plants. The mechanisms of tRNA targeting to, and translocation through, the double mitochondrial membrane in addition to how selectivity and regulation of these processes are achieved are the main questions that have been addressed. The characterization of both direct and co-import mechanisms involving distinct protein-import factors is in agreement with a polyphyletic origin of tRNA import. Moreover, our increased understanding of the tRNA-import pathway has been exploited recently to rescue dysfunctions associated with mitochondrial tRNA mutations.

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