• mitochondria;
  • GTP-binding proteins;
  • G;
  • G;
  • Ran;
  • porin;
  • contact sites;
  • human placenta

GTP-binding proteins (GTPases) have been detected in the mitochondria of human placenta. It has been proposed that porin interacts with GTPases in the mitochondrion to modulate contact site function, however, their identity and location is not known. In this study, we investigated the location of GTPases in mitochondria from term placentae as well as the expression of mitochondrial GTPases in mid-term placentae. Mitochondria obtained from human term and mid-term placentae were purified by sedimentation. Sub-mitochondrial vesicles prepared from ruptured and sonicated mitochondria were separated by ultracentrifugation in sucrose density gradients. The location of membrane vesicles was determined using marker enzymes. Mitochondrial proteins were separated by SDS-PAGE. Western blots were incubated in [α-32P]-GTP and detected using autoradiography or antibodies against known GTPases and porin followed by enhanced chemiluminescence. [α-32P]-GTP bound 24 and 28kDa proteins located in the outer membrane. The Gantibody detected 42.5, 53 and 67kDa proteins. The Gantibody identified a 40.5kDa band in contact sites and the outer membrane, as well as 55 and 105kDa proteins in contact site vesicles. The Ran antibody detected a 28kDa protein, mainly in the outer membrane. Porin migrated at 30kDa. Gand Ran were detected in mitochondria from both term and mid-term placentae. The location of porin and GTPases leave open the possibility that these proteins interact in contact sites and may also be responding to extra-mitochondrial signals. Ran and Gare expressed by mid-term in human placentae and may be necessary for placental functions at this stage of development. It will be important in future experiments to characterise the physiological functions of these GTP-binding proteins in the mitochondria of human placenta.