TOM9.2 Is a Calmodulin-Binding Protein Critical for TOM Complex Assembly but Not for Mitochondrial Protein Import in Arabidopsis thaliana
The translocon on the outer membrane of mitochondria (TOM) facilitates the import of nuclear-encoded proteins. The principal machinery of mitochondrial protein transport seems conserved in eukaryotes; however, divergence in the composition and structure of TOM components has been observed between mammals, yeast, and plants. TOM9, the plant homolog of yeast Tom22, is significantly smaller due to a truncation in the cytosolic receptor domain, and its precise function is not understood. Here we provide evidence showing that TOM9.2 from Arabidopsis thaliana is involved in the formation of mature TOM complex, most likely by influencing the assembly of the pore-forming subunit TOM40. Dexamethasone-induced RNAi gene silencing of TOM9.2 results in a severe reduction in the mature TOM complex, and the assembly of newly imported TOM40 into the complex is impaired. Nevertheless, mutant plants are fully viable and no obvious downstream effects of the loss of TOM complex, i.e., on mitochondrial import capacity, were observed. Furthermore, we found that TOM9.2 can bind calmodulin (CaM) in vitro and that CaM impairs the assembly of TOM complex in the isolated wild-type mitochondria, suggesting a regulatory role of TOM9.2 and a possible integration of TOM assembly into the cellular calcium signaling network.