The role of cytosolic factors in protein targeting to mitochondria is poorly understood. Here, we show that in mammals, the cytosolic chaperones Hsp90 and Hsp70 dock onto a specialized TPR domain in the import receptor Tom70 at the outer mitochondrial membrane. This interaction serves to deliver a set of preproteins to the receptor for subsequent membrane translocation dependent on the Hsp90 ATPase. Disruption of the chaperone/Tom70 recognition inhibits the import of these preproteins into mitochondria. In yeast, Hsp70 rather than Hsp90 is used in import, and Hsp70 docking is required for the formation of a productive preprotein/Tom70 complex. We outline a novel mechanism in which chaperones are recruited for a specific targeting event by a membrane-bound receptor.
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