In vivo expression and mitochondrial targeting of yeast apoiso-1-cytochrome c fusion proteins

Steven H. Nye, Richard C. Scarpulla*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


To define the import pathway for apoiso-1-cytochrome c in vivo, the coding region for bacterial chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) or yeast copper metallothionein (CuMT) was fused to the carboxy terminus of the apoiso-1-cytochrome c (iso-1) coding region. When the resulting iso-1/CAT and iso-1/CuMT fusion proteins were individually expressed in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, they were specifically targeted to the mitochondria and protected from trypsin digestion. Although iso-1/CAT was accessible to heme modification, it remained membrane associated because of the folded conformation of the CAT domain. A small deletion disrupting CAT structure resulted in the translocation of the resulting fusion protein, iso-1/CATA, to the intermembrane space, where it functioned efficiently in respiratory electron transfer. Similarly, iso-1/CuMT was heme modified and nearly identical to iso-1 in its ability to support respiratory growth, indicating that the CuMT domain was compatible with translocation to the IMS. Inclusion of copper in the growth medium, which converts the loosely structured apo-CuMT to a tightly folded holo-CuMT, inhibited both heme attachment and respiratory growth without affecting mitochondrial targeting. Thus, by altering the folded conformation of the reporter moiety of these fusion proteins, it was possible to differentiate between those molecules arrested at the mitochondrial targeting step of the cytochrome c import pathway and those translocated to the intermembrane space. By replacing the heme-binding cysteine residues with serines, this system was used to demonstrate that the import requirement for heme attachment operated at the level of membrane translocation and not on mitochondrial targeting in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5753-5762
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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