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Mitochondrial precursors are transported through the translocase of the outer membrane (TOM) complex. Tom70/Tom71 is a major surface receptor of the TOM complex for mitochondrial precursors and facilitates Hsp70/Hsp90-escorted precursor translocation into the mitochondrion. Previous structural studies of Tom71 have revealed that it contains an N-­terminal and a C-terminal domain and that the two domains may remain in an open conformation when binding to Hsp70/Hsp90. In a newly obtained crystal form of a complex of Tom71 and the Hsp70 C-terminus, the N-terminal domain was found to have rotated about 12° towards the C-terminal domain compared with the previous determined crystal structure of Tom71 in the open conformation. This newly solved structure is defined as the `intermediate conformation'. The domain rearrangements in Tom71 significantly change the surface hydrophobicity and the volume of the precursor-binding pocket. This work suggests that Tom70/Tom71-family members may exhibit structural plasticity from the intermediate conformation to the fully open conformation when complexed with Hsp70/Hsp90. This structural plasticity enables the precursor receptors to accommodate different precursor substrates for mitochondrial translocation.

Supporting information

PDB reference: Tom71 complexed with Hsp C-­terminus, 3lca

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