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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 Feb;1833(2):274-85. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2012.05.028. Epub 2012 Jun 7.

Mitochondrial protein import: common principles and physiological networks.

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Abteilung Biochemie II, Universität Göttingen, 37073 Göttingen, Germany.


Most mitochondrial proteins are encoded in the nucleus. They are synthesized as precursor forms in the cytosol and must be imported into mitochondria with the help of different protein translocases. Distinct import signals within precursors direct each protein to the mitochondrial surface and subsequently onto specific transport routes to its final destination within these organelles. In this review we highlight common principles of mitochondrial protein import and address different mechanisms of protein integration into mitochondrial membranes. Over the last years it has become clear that mitochondrial protein translocases are not independently operating units, but in fact closely cooperate with each other. We discuss recent studies that indicate how the pathways for mitochondrial protein biogenesis are embedded into a functional network of various other physiological processes, such as energy metabolism, signal transduction, and maintenance of mitochondrial morphology. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Protein Import and Quality Control in Mitochondria and Plastids.

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