Two different functions have been proposed for the phosphate carrier protein/p32 of Saccharomyces cerevisiae mitochondria: transport of phosphate and requirement for import of precursor proteins into mitochondria. We characterized a yeast mutant lacking the gene for the phosphate carrier/p32 and found both a block in the import of phosphate and a strong reduction in the import of preproteins transported to the mitochondrial inner membrane and matrix. Binding of preproteins to the surface of mutant mitochondria and import of outer membrane proteins were not inhibited, indicating that the inhibition of protein import occurred after the recognition step at the outer membrane. The membrane potential across the inner membrane of the mutant mitochondria was strongly reduced. Restoration of the membrane potential restored preprotein import but did not affect the block of phosphate transport of the mutant mitochondria. We conclude that the inhibition of protein import into mitochondria lacking the phosphate carrier/p32 is indirectly caused by a reduction of the mitochondrial membrane potential (delta(gamma)), and we propose a model that the reduction of delta(psi) is due to the defective phosphate import, suggesting that phosphate transport is the primary function of the phosphate carrier/p32
To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.