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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008 Dec;1147:293-302. doi: 10.1196/annals.1427.005.

The disulfide relay of the intermembrane space of mitochondria: an oxygen-sensing system?

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Cell Biology, University of Kaiserslautern, Kaiserslautern, Germany.


The intermembrane space of mitochondria contains many proteins that lack classical mitochondrial targeting sequences. Instead, these proteins often show characteristic patterns of cysteine residues that are critical for their accumulation in the organelle. Import of these proteins is catalyzed by two essential components, Mia40 and Erv1. Mia40 is a protein in the intermembrane space that directly binds newly imported proteins via disulfide bonds. By reorganization of these bonds, intramolecular disulfide bonds are formed in the imported proteins, which are thereby released from Mia40 into the intermembrane space. Because folded proteins are unable to traverse the import pore of the outer membrane, this leads to a permanent location of these proteins within the mitochondria. During this reaction, Mia40 becomes reduced and needs to be re-oxidized to regain its activity. Oxidation of Mia40 is carried out by Erv1, a conserved flavine adenine dinucleotide (FAD)-binding sulfhydryl oxidase. Erv1 directly interacts with Mia40 and shuttles electrons from reduced Mia40 to oxidized cytochrome c, from whence they flow through cytochrome oxidase to molecular oxygen. The connection of the disulfide relay with the respiratory chain not only significantly increases the efficiency of the oxidase activity, but also prevents the formation of potentially deleterious hydrogen peroxide. The oxidative activity of Erv1 strongly depends on the oxygen concentration in mitochondria. Erv1, therefore, may function as a molecular switch that adapts mitochondrial activities to the oxygen levels in the cell.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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