Two protein translocases transport precursor proteins into or across the inner mitochondrial membrane. The presequence translocase (TIM23 complex) sorts precursor proteins with a cleavable presequence either into the matrix or into the inner membrane. The carrier translocase (TIM22 complex) inserts multispanning proteins into the inner membrane. Both protein import pathways depend on the presence of a membrane potential, which is generated by the activity of the respiratory chain. The non-bilayer-forming phospholipids cardiolipin and phosphatidylethanolamine are required for the activity of the respiratory chain and therefore to maintain the membrane potential for protein import. Depletion of cardiolipin further affects the stability of the TIM23 complex. The role of bilayer-forming phospholipids like phosphatidylcholine (PC) in protein transport into the inner membrane and the matrix is unknown. Here, we report that import of presequence-containing precursors and carrier proteins is impaired in PC-deficient mitochondria. Surprisingly, depletion of PC does not affect stability and activity of respiratory supercomplexes, and the membrane potential is maintained. Instead, the dynamic TIM23 complex is destabilized when the PC levels are reduced, whereas the TIM22 complex remains intact. Our analysis further revealed that initial precursor binding to the TIM23 complex is impaired in PC-deficient mitochondria. We conclude that reduced PC levels differentially affect the TIM22 and TIM23 complexes in mitochondrial protein transport.
Fields of Expertise
- Human- & Biotechnology