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Mapa, Koyeli (2009): Conformational Dynamics of the Mitochondrial TIM23 Preprotein Translocase. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Medicine
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Abstract

The vast majority of mitochondrial proteins are synthesized by the cytosolic ribosomes as precursor proteins which have to be transported into the organelle to reach their sites of function. The whole process of recognition, translocation, intra-mitochondrial sorting of and assembly of precursor proteins is achieved by the concerted action of different mitochondrial translocases. All proteins destined for the mitochondrial matrix and some inner membrane proteins are imported first by the TOM complex of the outer membrane and subsequently by the TIM23 complex of the inner membrane in an energy-driven process. The TIM23 complex was found to consist of ten components, conventionally divided into two sectors: membrane sector harbouring the translocation channel and the import motor on the matrix side of the membrane sector. In the first part of the present work, the two most recently discovered subunits of the TIM23 complex, Pam17 and Tim21 were characterized. A systematic characterization revealed that both of these non-essential subunits of the translocase are associated with Tim17-Tim23 core of the membrane sector of the TIM23 translocase. A functional connection between the two non-essential components was discovered. Results presented in this part showed that Pam17 and Tim21 modulate the functions of the TIM23 complex in an antagonistic manner. The second part of the work was directed towards understanding the motor sector of the translocase in terms of the regulated interaction between Tim44 and Ssc1. Previous studies on the Tim44:Ssc1 interaction were able to discern the steady-state properties of Tim44:Ssc1 interaction in organello and in vitro. However, due to the limitations of the techniques used, they were unable to shed light on the kinetics and dynamics of the process. The translocation event is a dynamic event with conformational cycling of the various components. Therefore, the kinetic components essential in defining the cycle of events in the motor sector were explored. A FRET based assay to analyze the Tim44:Ssc1 interaction in real time was developed. The same set of tools was also used to resolve the regions of the two proteins that determine their interaction. The substrate induced dissociation of Tim44:Ssc1 complex was found to be too slow to support a physiological rate of protein translocation. ATP-induced dissociation was observed to be fast enough to be physiologically relevant. The dissociation of Ssc1 from Tim44 occurred in a one step manner without Tim44 anchored conformational changes. Furthermore, peptide-array scanning of mitochondrial matrix proteins revealed that Ssc1 and Tim44 share complementary binding sites on the precursor proteins which could prevent backsliding of preproteins. The data support the Brownian ratchet model mediated translocation of preproteins into the mitochondrial matrix. The third part of the work aimed at dissecting the chaperone cycle of Ssc1 in the mitochondrial matrix, in terms of conformational changes and binding of co-chaperones. Using the FRET sensors developed, the inter-domain conformation and lid-base conformations of the PBD of Ssc1 could be investigated. Single particle FRET (SpFRET) analysis showed that in the ATP-bound form Ssc1 populates a homogeneous conformational state with respect to the inter-domain conformation and conformation of the lid to base of the PBD. On the contrary, in the ADP-bound state the conformation of the chaperone is heterogenous. Using the same sensors on bacterial homologue DnaK, specific differences in conformational distributions were observed. Furthermore, the active role of substrates in determining the inter-domain conformation and lid-closing was evident from the SpFRET based conformational analyses. Using ensemble time resolved FRET, the kinetics and dynamics of conformational changes along with binding of co-chaperones were explored. This provided a better understanding of the conformational dynamics of Ssc1 in the context of functional chaperone cycle in the mitochondrial matrix.