Protein import into the innermost compartment of mitochondria (the matrix) requires a membrane potential (ΔΨ) across the inner membrane, as well as ATP-dependent interactions with chaperones in the matrix and cytosol. The role of nucleoside triphosphates other than ATP during import into the matrix, however, remains to be determined. Import of urea-denatured precursors does not require cytosolic chaperones. We have therefore used a purified and urea-denatured preprotein in our import assays to bypass the requirement of external ATP. Using this modified system, we demonstrate that GTP stimulates protein import into the matrix; the stimulatory effect is directly mediated by GTP hydrolysis and does not result from conversion of GTP to ATP. Both external GTP and matrix ATP are necessary; neither one can substitute for the other if efficient import is to be achieved. These results suggest a 'push-pull' mechanism of import, which may be common to other posttranslational translocation pathways.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology