oxidase is the terminal complex of eukaryotic oxidative phosphorylation in mitochondria. This process couples the reduction of electron carriers during metabolism to the reduction of molecular oxygen to water and translocation of protons from the internal mitochondrial matrix to the inter-membrane space. The electrochemical gradient formed is used to generate chemical energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate to power vital cellular processes. Cytochrome c
oxidase and most oxidative phosphorylation complexes are the product of the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes. This poses a series of topological and temporal steps that must be completed to ensure efficient assembly of the functional enzyme. Many assembly factors have evolved to perform these steps for insertion of protein into the inner mitochondrial membrane, maturation of the polypeptide, incorporation of co-factors and prosthetic groups and to regulate this process. Much of the information about each of these assembly factors has been gleaned from use of the single cell eukaryote Saccharomyces cerevisiae
and also mutations responsible for human disease. This review will focus on the assembly factors of cytochrome c
oxidase to highlight some of the outstanding questions in the assembly of this vital enzyme complex.
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