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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Dec;1817(12):2128-39. doi: 10.1016/j.bbabio.2012.09.006. Epub 2012 Sep 15.

The cytosol-synthesized subunit II (Cox2) precursor with the point mutation W56R is correctly processed in yeast mitochondria to rescue cytochrome oxidase.

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  • 1Instituto de Fisiología Celular, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México D.F., Mexico.


Deletion of the yeast mitochondrial gene COX2 encoding subunit 2 (Cox2) of cytochrome c oxidase (CcO) results in loss of respiration (Δcox2 strain). Supekova et al. (2010) [1] transformed a Δcox2 strain with a vector expressing Cox2 with a mitochondrial targeting sequence (MTS) and the point mutation W56R (Cox2(W56R)), restoring respiratory growth. Here, the CcO carrying the allotopically-expressed Cox2(W56R) was characterized. Yeast mitochondria from the wild-type (WT) and the Δcox2+Cox2(W56R) strains were subjected to Blue Native electrophoresis. In-gel activity of CcO and spectroscopic quantitation of cytochromes revealed that only 60% of CcO is present in the complemented strain, and that less CcO is found associated in supercomplexes as compared to WT. CcOs from the WT and the mutant exhibited similar subunit composition, although activity was 20-25% lower in the enzyme containing Cox2(W56R) than in the one with Cox2(WT). Tandem mass spectrometry confirmed that W(56) was substituted by R(56) in Cox2(W56R). In addition, Cox2(W56R) exhibited the same N-terminus than Cox2(WT), indicating that the MTS of Oxa1 and the leader sequence of 15 residues were removed from Cox2(W56R) during maturation. Thus, Cox2(W56R) is identical to Cox2(WT) except for the point mutation W56R. Mitochondrial Cox1 synthesis is strongly reduced in Δcox2 mutants, but the Cox2(W56R) complemented strain led to full restoration of Cox1 synthesis. We conclude that the cytosol-synthesized Cox2(W56R) follows a rate-limiting process of import, maturation or assembly that yields lower steady-state levels of CcO. Still, the allotopically-expressed Cox2(W56R) restores CcO activity and allows mitochondrial Cox1 synthesis to advance at WT levels.

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