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Cell. 2013 Aug 1;154(3):596-608. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.06.033.

Coupling of mitochondrial import and export translocases by receptor-mediated supercomplex formation.

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  • 1Institut für Biochemie und Molekularbiologie, ZBMZ, Universität Freiburg, 79104 Freiburg, Germany.


The mitochondrial outer membrane harbors two protein translocases that are essential for cell viability: the translocase of the outer mitochondrial membrane (TOM) and the sorting and assembly machinery (SAM). The precursors of β-barrel proteins use both translocases-TOM for import to the intermembrane space and SAM for export into the outer membrane. It is unknown if the translocases cooperate and where the β-barrel of newly imported proteins is formed. We established a position-specific assay for monitoring β-barrel formation in vivo and in organello and demonstrated that the β-barrel was formed and membrane inserted while the precursor was bound to SAM. β-barrel formation was inhibited by SAM mutants and, unexpectedly, by mutants of the central import receptor, Tom22. We show that the cytosolic domain of Tom22 links TOM and SAM into a supercomplex, facilitating precursor transfer on the intermembrane space side. Our study reveals receptor-mediated coupling of import and export translocases as a means of precursor channeling.

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