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J Mol Model. 2009 Aug;15(8):971-82. doi: 10.1007/s00894-008-0449-y. Epub 2009 Feb 6.

Evolutionarily evolved discriminators in the 3-TPR domain of the Toc64 family involved in protein translocation at the outer membrane of chloroplasts and mitochondria.

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Cluster of Excellence and Center of Membrane Proteomics, Institute for Molecular Biosciences, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Max-von-Laue-Str. 9, N200, 60438, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


Transport of polypeptides across membranes is a general and essential cellular process utilised by molecular machines. At least one component of these complexes contains a domain composed of three tetratricopeptide repeat (3-TPR) motifs. We have focussed on the receptor Toc64 to elucidate the evolved functional specifications of its 3-TPR domain. Toc64 is a component of the Toc core complex and functionally replaces Tom70 at the outer membrane of mitochondria in plants. Its 3-TPR domain recognises the conserved C-terminus of precursor-bound chaperones. We built homology models of the 3-TPR domain of chloroplastic Toc64 from different species and of the mitochondrial isoform from Arabidopsis. Guided by modelling, we identified residues essential for functional discrimination of the differently located isoforms to be located almost exclusively on the convex surface of the 3-TPR domain. The only exception is at568Ser/ps557Met, which is positioned in the ligand-binding groove. The functional implications of the homology models are discussed.

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