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Nicholson, Donald W. and Hergersberg, Christoph and Neupert, Walter (1988): Role of cytochrome c heme lyase in the import of cytochrome c into mitochondria. In: The Journal of Biological Chemistry, Vol. 263, No. 35: pp. 19034-19042
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Abstract

The import of cytochrome c into Neurospora crassa mitochondria was examined at distinct stages in vitro. The precursor protein, apocytochrome c, binds to mitochondria with high affinity and specificity but is not transported completely across the outer membrane in the absence of conversion to holocytochrome c. The bound apocytochrome c is accessible to externally added proteases but at the same time penetrates far enough through the outer membrane to interact with cytochrome c heme lyase. Formation of a complex in which apocytochrome c and cytochrome c heme lyase participate represents the rate-limiting step of cytochrome c import. Conversion from the bound state to holocytochrome c, on the other hand, occurs 10-30-fold faster. Association of apocytochrome c with cytochrome c heme lyase also takes place after solubilizing mitochondria with detergent. We conclude that the bound apocytochrome c, spanning the outer membrane, forms a complex with cytochrome c heme lyase from which it can react further to be converted to holocytochrome c and be translocated completely into the intermembrane space.