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J Bioenerg Biomembr. 1990 Dec;22(6):753-68.

Biogenesis of mitochondrial c-type cytochromes.

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Institut für Physiologische Chemie, Physikalische Biochemie und Zellbiologie, Universität München, Federal Republic of Germany.


Cytochromes c and c1 are essential components of the mitochondrial respiratory chain. In both cytochromes the heme group is covalently linked to the polypeptide chain via thioether bridges. The location of the two cytochromes is in the intermembrane space; cytochrome c is loosely attached to the surface of the inner mitochondrial membrane, whereas cytochrome c1 is firmly anchored to the inner membrane. Both cytochrome c and c1 are encoded by nuclear genes, translated on cytoplasmic ribosomes, and are transported into the mitochondria where they become covalently modified and assembled. Despite the many similarities, the import pathways of cytochrome c and c1 are drastically different. Cytochrome c1 is made as a precursor with a complex bipartite presequence. In a first step the precursor is directed across outer and inner membranes to the matrix compartment of the mitochondria where cleavage of the first part of the presequence takes place. In a following step the intermediate-size form is redirected across the inner membrane; heme addition then occurs on the surface of the inner membrane followed by the second processing reaction. The import pathway of cytochrome c is exceptional in practically all aspects, in comparison with the general import pathway into mitochondria. Cytochrome c is synthesized as apocytochrome c without any additional sequence. It is translocated selectively across the outer membrane. Addition of the heme group, catalyzed by cytochrome c heme lyase, is a requirement for transport. In summary, cytochrome c1 import appears to follow a "conservative pathway" reflecting features of cytochrome c1 sorting in prokaryotic cells. In contrast, cytochrome c has "invented" a rather unique pathway which is essentially "non-conservative."

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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