Minor modifications and major adaptations: The evolution of molecular machines driving mitochondrial protein import

Victoria Hewitt, Felicity Alcock, Trevor Lithgow

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Bacterial endosymbionts gave rise to mitochondria in a process that depended on the acquisition of protein import pathways. Modification and in some cases major re-tooling of the endosymbiont s cellular machinery produced these pathways, establishing mitochondria as organelles common to all eukaryotic cells. The legacy of this evolutionary tinkering can be seen in the homologies and structural similarities between mitochondrial protein import machinery and modern day bacterial proteins. Comparative analysis of these systems is revealing both possible routes for the evolution of the mitochondrial membrane translocases and a greater understanding of the mechanisms behind mitochondrial protein import.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)947 - 954
Number of pages8
JournalBBA Biomembranes
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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