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In order to reach the inner membrane of the mitochondrion, multispanning carrier proteins must cross the aqueous intermembrane space. Two essential proteins of that space, Tim10p and Tim12p, were shown to mediate import of multispanning carriers into the inner membrane. Both proteins formed a complex with the inner membrane protein Tim22p. Tim10p readily dissociated from the complex and was required to transport carrier precursors across the outer membrane; Tim12p was firmly bound to Tim22p and mediated the insertion of carriers into the inner membrane. Neither protein was required for protein import into the other mitochondrial compartments. Both proteins may function as intermembrane space chaperones for the highly insoluble carrier proteins.
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