The TIM22 complex mediates the import of hydrophobic carrier proteins into the mitochondrial inner membrane. While the TIM22 machinery has been well characterised in yeast, the human complex remains poorly characterised. Here, we identify Tim29 (C19orf52) as a novel, metazoan-specific subunit of the human TIM22 complex. The protein is integrated into the mitochondrial inner membrane with it's C-terminus exposed to the intermembrane space. Tim29 is required for the stability of the TIM22 complex and functions in the assembly of hTim22. Furthermore, Tim29 contacts the Translocase of the Outer Mitochondrial Membrane, TOM complex, enabling a mechanism for transport of hydrophobic carrier substrates across the aqueous intermembrane space. Identification of Tim29 highlights the significance of analysing mitochondrial import systems across phylogenetic boundaries, which can reveal novel components and mechanisms in higher organisms.
Keywords: TIM22; biochemistry; cell biology; human; mitochondria; protein trafficking.