The evolution of eukaryotes required creation of protein targeting pathways to ensure discrete populations of proteins could be sent into each compartment. Various compartments, such as mitochondria, plastids, the nucleus and peroxisomes are eukaryote-spec ific and building protein targeting pathways for these compartments depended on the de novo creation of specific molecular machines. The purpose of this project is to search for and characterize components of equivalent molecular machines in the membranes of the mitochondria-related organelles found in some of the ancient protist species that represent significant parasites of humans. Candidates of TOM, TIM and PAM complex components involved in protein import into mitochondria-related organelles of Giardia intestinalis Entamoeba histolytica and Trichomonas vaginalis will be characterized. Our aim is to use comparative analyses to understand how a defined set of such molecular machines were created, and mechanistic details of how they provide their function in protein transport across membranes in each of the organisms in which they are found.
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