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Lill, Roland; Stuart, Rosemary A.; Drygas, Mariola E.; Nargang, Frank E.; Neupert, Walter (February 1992): Import of cytochrome c heme lyase into mitochondria. A novel pathway into the intermembrane space. In: The EMBO Journal Online, Vol. 11, No. 2: pp. 449-456


Cytochrome c heme lyase (CCHL) catalyses the covalent attachment of the heme group to apocytochrome c during its import into mitochondria. The enzyme is membrane-associated and is located within the intermembrane space. The precursor of CCHL synthesized in vitro was efficiently translocated into isolated mitochondria from Neurospora crassa. The imported CCHL, like the native protein, was correctly localized to the intermembrane space, where it was membrane-bound. As with the majority of mitochondrial precursor proteins, CCHL uses the MOM19-GIP receptor complex in the outer membrane for import. In contrast to proteins taking the general import route, CCHL was imported independently of both ATP-hydrolysis and an electrochemical potential as external energy sources. CCHL which lacks a cleavable signal sequence apparently does not traverse the inner membrane to reach the intermembrane space; rather, it translocates through the outer membrane only. Thus, CCHL represents an example of a novel, 'non-conservative' import pathway into the intermembrane space, thereby also showing that the import apparatus in the outer membrane acts separately from the import machinery in the inner membrane.