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J Bioenerg Biomembr. 1997 Feb;29(1):19-27.

Recognition and binding of mitochondrial presequences during the import of proteins into mitochondria.

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Palo Alto Institute of Molecular Medicine, Mountain View, California 94043, USA.


Nuclear-encoded mitochondrial proteins are imported into mitochondria due to the presence of a targeting sequence, the presequence, on their amino termini. Presequences, which are typically proteolyzed after a protein has been imported into a mitochondrion, lack any strictly conserved primary structure but are positively charged and are predicted to form amphiphilic alpha-helices. Studies with synthetic peptides corresponding to various presequences argue that presequences can partition nonspecifically into the mitochondrial outer membrane and that the specificity of translocation of precursors into mitochondria may depend on interactions of the presequence with the electrical potential of the inner membrane. Although proteins of the outer membrane that are necessary for the translocation of precursor proteins have been proposed to function as receptors for presequences, the binding of presequences to these proteins has not been demonstrated directly. Proteins of the mitochondrial outer membrane may not be responsible for the specificity of translocation of precursors but may instead function, together with cytosolic molecular chaperones, to maintain precursor proteins in conformations that are competent for translocation as the precursors associate with the mitochondrial surface.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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