Pfanner, Nikolaus; Hartl, Franz-Ulrich; Guiard, Bernard; Neupert, Walter
Mitochondrial precursor proteins are imported through a hydrophilic membrane environment.
In: European Journal of Biochemistry, Vol. 169, No. 2: pp. 289-293
We have analyzed how translocation intermediates of imported mitochondrial precursor proteins, which span contact sites, interact with the mitochondrial membranes. F1-ATPase subunit β(F1β) was trapped at contact sites by importing it into Neurospora mitochondria in the presence of low levels of nucleoside triphosphates. This F1β translocation intermediate could be extracted from the membranes by treatment with protein denaturants such as alkaline pH or urea. By performing import at low temperatures, the ADP/ATP carrier was accumulated in contact sites of Neurospora mitochondria and cytochrome b2 in contact sites of yeast mitochondria. These translocation intermediates were also extractable from the membranes at alkaline pH. Thus, translocation of precursor proteins across mitochondrial membranes seems to occur through an environment which is accessible to aqueous perturbants. We propose that proteinaceous structures are essential components of a translocation apparatus present in contact sites.