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Vasiljev, Andreja (2004): Isolation and characterisation of the intermembrane space components of the mitochondrial TIM22 protein import machinery of Neurospora crassa. Dissertation, LMU München: Fakultät für Biologie



Mitochondria are essential cellular organelles of eukaryotic organisms, which import most of their proteinaceous constituents from the cytoplasm. Two mitochondrial membranes contain different translocation machineries which are involved in the import and proper sorting of mitochondrial precursor proteins. The TIM22 translocase in the inner mitochondrial membrane mediates the import of polytopic proteins into this membrane. In addition to the membrane integrated components Tim22 and Tim54, the TIM22 translocase possesses components in the intermembrane space, termed Tim9 and Tim10. In the present study, the tim9 and tim10 genes of the TIM22 translocase of N. crassa were identified. The structural and functional characteristics of the corresponding gene products, the Tim9 and Tim10 proteins, were examined. Tim9 was demonstrated to be an essential protein. The Tim9 and Tim10 proteins were shown to build a 70-80 kDa heterohexameric complex in the mitochondrial intermembrane space. The isolated Tim9•Tim10 complex had the same oligomeric structure as the native one, and it proved fully functional in interacting in vitro with its physiological substrate, the ADP/ATP carrier (AAC). Peptide library screens were performed to determine the structural determinants of the substrates that are recognised by the Tim9•Tim10 complex. Efficient binding to the regions covering residues of the hydrophobic membrane spanning domains and of the connecting hydrophilic loops was observed. In this way, Tim9 and Tim10 proteins interact with their substrates, while the hydrophobic regions of the substrates are still present in the TOM complex and thereby protected from the aqueous environment of the intermembrane space compartment. Furthermore, when enclosed into proteoliposomes containing the reconstituted TOM complex, Tim9•Tim10 complex specifically promoted the translocation of the AAC precursor. Hence, the Tim9•Tim10 complex and the TOM complex are both necessary and sufficient to facilitate translocation of carrier proteins across the outer mitochondrial membrane. Finally, peptide screens and chemical cross-linking experiments were used to identify the precursor of N. crassa Tim23 protein as a novel substrate of the Tim9•Tim10 complex.