Tom20 mediates localization of mRNAs to mitochondria in a translation-dependent manner

Erez Eliyahu, Lilach Pnueli, Daniel Melamed, Tanja Scherrer, André P. Gerber, Ophry Pines, Doron Rapaport, Yoav Arava*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


mRNAs encoding mitochondrial proteins are enriched in the vicinity of mitochondria, presumably to facilitate protein transport. A possible mechanism for enrichment may involve interaction of the translocase of the mitochondrial outer membrane (TOM) complex with the precursor protein while it is translated, thereby leading to association of polysomal mRNAs with mitochondria. To test this hypothesis, we isolated mitochondrial fractions from yeast cells lacking the major import receptor, Tom20, and compared their mRNA repertoire to that of wild-type cells by DNA microarrays. Most mRNAs encoding mitochondrial proteins were less associated with mitochondria, yet the extent of decrease varied among genes. Analysis of several mRNAs revealed that optimal association of Tom20 target mRNAs requires both translating ribosomes and features within the encoded mitochondrial targeting signal. Recently, Puf3p was implicated in the association of mRNAs with mitochondria through interaction with untranslated regions. We therefore constructed a tom20Δ puf3 Δ double-knockout strain, which demonstrated growth defects under conditions where fully functional mitochondria are required. Mislocalization effects for few tested mRNAs appeared stronger in the double knockout than in the tom20Δ strain. Taken together, our data reveal a large-scale mRNA association mode that involves interaction of Tom20p with the translated mitochondrial targeting sequence and may be assisted by Puf3p.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)284-294
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


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