How to get to the other side of the mitochondrial inner membrane - the protein import motor

Biol Chem. 2020 May 26;401(6-7):723-736. doi: 10.1515/hsz-2020-0106.


Biogenesis of mitochondria relies on import of more than 1000 different proteins from the cytosol. Approximately 70% of these proteins follow the presequence pathway - they are synthesized with cleavable N-terminal extensions called presequences and reach the final place of their function within the organelle with the help of the TOM and TIM23 complexes in the outer and inner membranes, respectively. The translocation of proteins along the presequence pathway is powered by the import motor of the TIM23 complex. The import motor of the TIM23 complex is localized at the matrix face of the inner membrane and is likely the most complicated Hsp70-based system identified to date. How it converts the energy of ATP hydrolysis into unidirectional translocation of proteins into mitochondria remains one of the biggest mysteries of this translocation pathway. Here, the knowns and the unknowns of the mitochondrial protein import motor are discussed.

Keywords: Hsp70; J protein; chaperone; mitochondria; protein translocation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / metabolism*
  • Protein Transport
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / chemistry
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism*


  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins