Insertion of Hydrophobic Membrane Proteins Into the Inner Mitochondrial Membrane--A Guided Tour

J Mol Biol. 2003 Feb 21;326(3):639-57. doi: 10.1016/s0022-2836(02)01440-7.


Only a few mitochondrial proteins are encoded by the organellar genome. The majority of mitochondrial proteins are nuclear encoded and thus have to be transported into the organelle from the cytosol. Within the mitochondrion proteins have to be sorted into one of the four sub-compartments: the outer or inner membranes, the intermembrane space or the matrix. These processes are mediated by complex protein machineries within the different compartments that act alone or in concert with each other. The translocation machinery of the outer membrane is formed by a multi-subunit protein complex (TOM complex), that is built up by signal receptors and the general import pore (GIP). The inner membrane houses two multi-subunit protein complexes that each handles special subsets of mitochondrial proteins on their way to their final destination. According to their primary function these two complexes have been termed the pre-sequence translocase (or TIM23 complex) and the protein insertion complex (or TIM22 complex). The identification of components of these complexes and the analysis of the molecular mechanisms underlying their function are currently an exciting and fast developing field of molecular cell biology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*


  • Membrane Proteins