The assembly of cytochrome c oxidase in the inner mitochondrial membranes of eukaryotic cells requires the protein products of a large number of nuclear genes. In yeast, some of these act globally and affect the assembly of several respiratory-chain protein complexes, whereas others act in a cytochrome c oxidase-specific fashion. Many of these yeast proteins have human counterparts, which when mutated lead to energy-related diseases. One of these proteins, Pet100p, is a novel molecular chaperone that functions to incorporate a subcomplex containing cytochrome c oxidase subunits VII, VIIa and VIII into holo-(cytochrome c oxidase). Here we report the topological disposition of Pet100p in the inner mitochondrial membrane and show that its C-terminal domain is essential for its function as a cytochrome c oxidase-specific ‘assembly facilitator’.

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