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Interplay Between Mitochondrial Protein Import And Respiratory Complexes Assembly In Neuronal Health And Degeneration

Hope I. Needs, Margherita Protasoni, Jeremy M. Henley, Julien Prudent, Ian Collinson, Gonçalo C. Pereira

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The fact that >99% of mitochondrial proteins are encoded by the nuclear genome and synthesised in the cytosol renders the process of mitochondrial protein import fundamental for normal organelle physiology. In addition to this, the nuclear genome comprises most of the proteins required for respiratory complex assembly and function. This means that without fully functional protein import, mitochondrial respiration will be defective, and the major cellular ATP source depleted. When mitochondrial protein import is impaired, a number of stress response pathways are activated in order to overcome the dysfunction and restore mitochondrial and cellular proteostasis. However, prolonged impaired mitochondrial protein import and subsequent defective respiratory chain function contributes to a number of diseases including primary mitochondrial diseases and neurodegeneration. This review focuses on how the processes of mitochondrial protein translocation and respiratory complex assembly and function are interlinked, how they are regulated, and their importance in health and disease.