We present evidence for a unique covalent modification of a nuclear-encoded precursor protein targeted to plant mitochondria. We investigated the early events of in vitro import for the mitochondrial precursor of the ATP synthase F1β subunit from Nicotiana plumbaginifolia (pF1β) into plant mitochondria. When pF1β of 59 kDa was incubated with mitochondria isolated from different higher-plant species, a band of 61 kDa was generated. The 61 kDa protein was a covalently modified form of the 59 kDa pF1β. The modification was dependent on the 25 amino acid long N-terminal region of the presequence of pF1β. The modification was catalysed by an enzyme located in the outer mitochondrial membrane which was specific for higher plants and could not be washed off from the membrane by urea, KCl or EDTA. The modification was ATP- and Ca2+-dependent, but it was not affected by inhibitors of protein kinases. No inhibition of the modification was observed with phosphatase, methylation or acylation inhibitors. The modification occurs prior to translocation through the mitochondrial outer membrane. Inhibition of the modification process does not affect the import of the precursor protein, hence precursor modification was not a prerequisite for import. Both the modified and the unmodified pF1β proteins were strongly associated with the mitochondrial outer membrane.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 16, 2004
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