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Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Cell Research

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The inner mitochondrial membrane harbors a large number of proteins that display a wide range of topological arrangements. The majority of these proteins are encoded in the cell's nucleus, but a few polytopic proteins, all subunits of respiratory chain complexes are encoded by the mitochondrial genome. A number of distinct sorting mechanisms exist to direct these proteins into the mitochondrial inner membrane. One of these pathways involves the export of proteins from the matrix into the inner membrane and is used by both proteins synthesized within the mitochondria, as well as by a subset of nuclear encoded proteins. Prior to embarking on the export pathway, nuclear encoded proteins using this sorting route are initially imported into the mitochondrial matrix from the cytosol, their site of synthesis. Protein export from the matrix into the inner membrane bears similarities to Sec-independent protein export in bacteria and requires the function of the Oxa1 protein. Oxa1 is a component of a general protein insertion site in yeast mitochondrial inner membrane used by both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA encoded proteins. Oxa1 is a member of the conserved Oxa1/YidC/Alb3 protein family found throughout prokaryotes throughout eukaryotes (where it is found in mitochondria and chloroplasts). The evidence to demonstrate that the Oxa1/YidC/Alb3 protein family represents a novel evolutionarily conserved membrane insertion machinery is reviewed here.


Accepted version. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Cell Research, Vol. 1592, No. 1 (September 2, 2002): 79-97. DOI. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. Used with permission.

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