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J Biol Chem. 2010 Nov 5;285(45):34991-8. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.163808. Epub 2010 Aug 25.

Identification of protein-protein and protein-ribosome interacting regions of the C-terminal tail of human mitochondrial inner membrane protein Oxa1L.

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Department of Chemistry, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-3290, USA.


The mammalian mitochondrial inner membrane protein Oxa1L is involved in the insertion of a number of mitochondrial translation products into the inner membrane. During this process, the C-terminal tail of Oxa1L (Oxa1L-CTT) binds mitochondrial ribosomes and is believed to coordinate the synthesis and membrane insertion of the nascent chains into the membrane. The C-terminal tail of Oxa1L does not contain any Cys residues. Four variants of this protein with a specifically placed Cys residue at position 4, 39, 67, or 94 of Oxa1L-CTT have been prepared. These Cys residues have been derivatized with a fluorescent probe, tetramethylrhodamine-5-maleimide, for biophysical studies. Oxa1L-CTT forms oligomers cooperatively with a binding constant in the submicromolar range. Fluorescence anisotropy and fluorescence lifetime measurements indicate that contacts near a long helix close to position 39 of Oxa1L-CTT occur during oligomer formation. Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy measurements demonstrate that all of the Oxa1L-CTT derivatives bind to mammalian mitochondrial ribosomes. Steady-state fluorescence quenching and fluorescence lifetime data indicate that there are extensive contacts between Oxa1L-CTT and the ribosome-encompassing regions around positions 39, 67, and 94. The results of this study suggest that Oxa1L-CTT undergoes conformational changes and induced oligomer formation when it binds to the ribosome.

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