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Pfanner, Nikolaus; Neupert, Walter (November 1985): Transport of proteins into mitochondria. A potassium diffusion potential is able to drive the import of ADP/ATP carrier. In: The EMBO Journal Online, Vol. 4, No. 11: pp. 2819-2825


The transfer of cytoplasmically synthesized precursor proteins into or across the inner mitochondrial membrane is dependent on energization of the membrane. To investigate the role of this energy requirement, a buffer system was developed in which efficient import of ADP/ATP carrier into mitochondria from the receptor-bound state occurred. This import was rapid and was dependent on divalent cations, whereas the binding of precursor proteins to the mitochondrial surface was slow and was independent of added divalent cations. Using this buffer system, the import of ADP/ATP carrier could be driven by a valinomycin-induced potassium diffusion potential. The protonophore carbonylcyanide m-chlorophenyl-hydrazone was not able to abolish this import. Imposition of a delta pH did not stimulate the import. We conclude that the membrane potential delta psi itself and not the total protonmotive force delta p is the required energy source.