The precursor of porin, a mitochondrial outer membrane protein, competes for the import of precursors destined for the three other mitochondrial compartments, including the Fe/S protein of the bc1-complex (intermembrane space), the ADP/ATP carrier (inner membrane), subunit 9 of the F0-ATPase (inner membrane), and subunit beta of the F1-ATPase (matrix). Competition occurs at the level of a common site at which precursors are inserted into the outer membrane. Protease-sensitive binding sites, which act before the common insertion site, appear to be responsible for the specificity and selectivity of mitochondrial protein uptake. We suggest that distinct receptor proteins on the mitochondrial surface specifically recognize precursor proteins and transfer them to a general insertion protein component (GIP) in the outer membrane. Beyond GIP, the import pathways diverge, either to the outer membrane or to translocation contact-sites, and then subsequently to the other mitochondrial compartments.

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