The Mitochondrial Import Machinery for Preproteins Academic Article uri icon


  • Most mitochondrial proteins are transported from the cytosol into the organelle. Due to the division of mitochondria into an outer and inner membrane, an intermembrane space and a matrix, an elaborated system for recognition and transport of preproteins has evolved. The translocase of the outer mitochondrial membrane (TOM) and the translocases of the inner mitochondrial membrane (TIM) mediate these processes. Receptor proteins on the cytosolic face of mitochondria recognize the cargo proteins and transfer them to the general import pore (GIP) of the outer membrane. Following the passage of preproteins through the outer membrane they are transported with the aid of the TIM23 complex into either the matrix, inner membrane, or intermembrane space. Some preprotein families utilize the TIM22 complex for their insertion into the inner membrane. The identification of protein components, which are involved in these transport processes, as well as significant insights into the molecular function of some of them, has been achieved in recent years. Moreover, we are now approaching a new era in which elaborated techniques have already allowed and will enable us to gather information about the TOM and TIM complexes on an ultrastructural level.

publication date

  • January 2001

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