The majority of mitochondrial proteins can be imported into mitochondria following termination of their translation in the cytosol. Import of fumarase and several other proteins into mitochondria does not appear to occur post-translationally according to standard in vivo and in vitro assays. However, the nature of interaction between the translation and translocation apparatuses during import of these proteins is unknown. Therefore, a major question is whether the nascent chains of these proteins are exposed to the cytosol during import into mitochondria. We asked directly if the presequence of fumarase can be cleaved by externally added mitochondrial processing peptidase (MPP) during import, using an in vitro translation-translocation coupled reaction. The presequence of fumarase was cleaved by externally added MPP during import, indicating a lack of, or a loose physical connection between, the translation and translocation of this protein. Exchanging the authentic presequence of fumarase for that of the more efficient Su9-ATPase presequence reduced the exposure of fumarase precursors to externally added MPP en route to mitochondria. Therefore, exposure to cytosolic MPP is dependent on the presequence and not on the mature part of fumarase. On the other hand, following translation in the absence of mitochondria, the authentic fumarase presequence and that of Su9-ATPase become inaccessible to added MPP when attached to mature fumarase. Thus, folding of the mature portion of fumarase, which conceals the presequence, is the reason for its inability to be imported in classical post-translational assays. Another unique feature of fumarase is its distribution between the mitochondria and the cytosol. We show that in vivo the switch of the authentic presequence with that of Su9-ATPase caused more fumarase molecules to be localized to the mitochondria. A possible mechanism by which the cytosolic exposure, the targeting efficiency, and the subcellular distribution of fumarase are dictated by the presequence is discussed.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Yudit Karp for her dedicated assistance, Doron Rapaport for kindly providing purified recombinant MPP and for fruitful discussions over this study. We thank Eitan Bibi for critical reading of the manuscript. This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF), German Israeli Foundation (GIF), and German Israeli Project Cooperation (DIP).
- co-translational translocation
- dual distribution
- mitochondrial import