Mitochondrial import of human and yeast fumarase in live mammalian cells: Retrograde translocation of the yeast enzyme is mainly caused by its poor targeting sequence
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Studies on yeast fumarase provide the main evidence for dual localization of a protein in mitochondria and cytosol by means of retrograde translocation. We have examined the subcellular targeting of yeast and human fumarase in live cells to identify factors responsible for this. The cDNAs for mature yeast or human fumarase were fused to the gene for enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) and they contained, at their N-terminus, a mitochondrial targeting sequence (MTS) derived from either yeast fumarase, human fumarase, or cytochrome c oxidase subunit VIII (COX) protein. Two nuclear localization sequences (2x NLS) were also added to these constructs to facilitate detection of any cytosolic protein by its targeting to nucleus. In Cos-1 cells transfected with these constructs, human fumarase with either the native or COX MTSs was detected exclusively in mitochondria in >98% of the cells, while the remainder 1-2% of the cells showed varying amounts of nuclear labeling. In contrast, when human fumarase was fused to the yeast MTS, >50% of the cells showed nuclear labeling. Similar studies with yeast fumarase showed that with its native MTS, nuclear labeling was seen in 80-85% of the cells, but upon fusion to either human or COX MTS, nuclear labeling was observed in only 10-15% of the cells. These results provide evidence that extramitochondrial presence of yeast fumarase is mainly caused by the poor mitochondrial targeting characteristics of its MTS (but also affected by its primary sequence), and that the retrograde translocation mechanism does not play a significant role in the extramitochondrial presence of mammalian fumarase.
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