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Hartl, Franz-Ulrich; Schmidt, Bernd; Wachter, Elmar; Weiss, Hanns und Neupert, Walter (1986): Transport into mitochondria and intramitochondrial sorting of the Fe/S protein of ubiquinol-cytochrome c reductase. In: Cell, Vol. 47, Nr. 6: S. 939-951


The Fe/S protein of complex III is encoded by a nuclear gene, synthesized in the cytoplasm as a precursor with a 32 residue amino-terminal extension, and transported to the outer surface of the inner mitochondrial membrane. Our data suggest the following transport pathway. First, the precursor is translocated via translocation contact sites into the matrix. There, cleavage to an intermediate containing an eight residue extension occurs. The intermediate is then redirected across the inner membrane, processed to the mature subunit, and assembled into complex III. We suggest that the folding and membrane-translocation pathway in the endosymbiotic ancestor of mitochondria has been conserved during evolution of eukaryotic cells; transfer of the gene for Fe/S protein to the nucleus has led to addition of the presequence, which routes the precursor back to its “ancestral” assembly pathway.