This review focuses on organellar AAA/FtsH proteases, whose proteolytic and chaperone-like activity is a crucial component of the protein quality control systems of mitochondrial and chloroplast membranes. We compare the AAA/FtsH proteases from yeast, mammals and plants. The nature of the complexes formed by AAA/FtsH proteases and the current view on their involvement in degradation of non-native organellar proteins or assembly of membrane complexes are discussed. Additional functions of AAA proteases not directly connected with protein quality control found in yeast and mammals but not yet in plants are also described shortly. Following an overview of the molecular functions of the AAA/FtsH proteases we discuss physiological consequences of their inactivation in yeast, mammals and plants. The molecular basis of phenotypes associated with inactivation of the AAA/FtsH proteases is not fully understood yet, with the notable exception of those observed in m-AAA protease-deficient yeast cells, which are caused by impaired maturation of mitochondrial ribosomal protein. Finally, examples of cytosolic events affecting protein quality control in mitochondria and chloroplasts are given. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Protein Import and Quality Control in Mitochondria and Plastids.
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