Mitochondrial heat shock protein 70 (mt-Hsp70) has been shown to play an important role in facilitating import into, as well as folding and assembly of nuclear-encoded proteins in the mitochondrial matrix. Here, we describe a role for mt-Hsp70 in chaperoning proteins encoded by mitochondrial DNA and synthesized within mitochondria. The availability of mt-Hsp70 function influences the pattern of proteins synthesized in mitochondria of yeast both in vivo and in vitro. In particular, we show that mt-Hsp70 acts in maintaining the var1 protein, the only mitochondrially encoded subunit of mitochondrial ribosomes, in an assembly competent state, especially under heat stress conditions. Furthermore, mt-Hsp70 helps to facilitate assembly of mitochondrially encoded subunits of the ATP synthase complex. By interacting with the ATP-ase 9 oligomer, mt-Hsp70 promotes assembly of ATP-ase 6, and thereby protects the latter protein from proteolytic degradation. Thus mt-Hsp70 by acting as a chaperone for proteins encoded by the mitochondrial DNA, has a critical role in the assembly of supra-molecular complexes.

This content is only available as a PDF.