Our lab studies the mechanisms that control the amount of Cox1 that is synthesized in mitochondria. Cox1 is the largest subunit of the cytochrome c oxidase (COX), the last electron acceptor of the respiratory chain. Cox1 is encoded by the mitochondrial gene COX1, so the protein has to be synthesized within mitochondrial ribosomes and inserted into the mitochondrial inner membrane. Cox1 is essential for the catalytic activity of the enzyme, as it contains the heme a/heme a3-CuB center. In addition, Cox1 has a central role in the assembly of COX, which is composed of 12 subunits in yeast.
The amount of Cox1 protein made in mitochondria is dependent on the assembly state of the COX. In general, mutants where COX assembly is disrupted show a reduced Cox1 synthesis. Our lab is focused in understanding the mechanisms that control this process.