We have studied the targeting and assembly of the 2-oxoglutarate carrier (OGC), an integral inner-membrane protein of mitochondria. The precursor of OGC, synthesized without a cleavable presequence, is transported into mitochondria in an ATP- and membrane potential-dependent manner. Import of the mammalian OGC occurs efficiently into both mammalian and yeast mitochondria. Targeting of OGC reveals a clear dependence on the mitochondrial surface receptor Tom70 (the 70 kDa subunit of the translocase of the outer mitochondrial membrane), whereas a cleavable preprotein depends on Tom20 (the 20 kDa subunit), supporting a model of specificity differences of the receptors and the existence of distinct targeting pathways to mitochondria. The assembly of minute amounts of OGC imported in vitro to the dimeric form can be monitored by blue native electrophoresis of digitonin-lysed mitochondria. The assembly of mammalian OGC and fungal ADP/ATP carrier occurs with high efficiency in both mammalian and yeast mitochondria. These findings indicate a dynamic behaviour of the carrier dimers in the mitochondrial inner membrane and suggest a high conservation of the assembly reactions from mammals to fungi.

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Author notes


These authors contributed equally to this work.