Research Article

Current Genetics

, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 223-233

First online:

Evidence for the association of yeast mitochondrial ribosomes with Cox11p, a protein required for the CuB site formation of cytochrome c oxidase

  • Oleh KhalimonchukAffiliated withInstitut für Genetik, Technische Universität Dresden Email author 
  • , Kai OstermannAffiliated withInstitut für Genetik, Technische Universität Dresden
  • , Gerhard RödelAffiliated withInstitut für Genetik, Technische Universität Dresden

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Cytochrome c oxidase is the terminal enzyme of the mitochondrial (mt) respiratory chain. It contains copper ions, which are organized in two centres, CuA and CuB. The CuA site of subunit Cox2p is exposed to the mt intermembrane space, while the CuB site of subunit Cox1p is buried in the inner mt membrane. Incorporation of copper into the two centres is crucial for the assembly and activity of the enzyme. Formation of the CuB site is dependent on Cox11p, a copper-binding protein of the mt inner membrane. Here, we experimentally prove that Cox11p possesses a Nin–Cout topology, with the C-terminal copper-binding domain exposed in the mt intermembrane space. Furthermore, we provide evidence for the association of Cox11p with the mt translation machinery. We propose a model in which the CuB site is co-translationally formed by a transient interaction between Cox11p and the nascent Cox1p in the intermembrane space.


Cytochrome c oxidase Copper metabolism Mitochondria Cox11p Mitoribosomes Saccharomyces cerevisiae