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Keywords:

  • ascidian;
  • dual distribution;
  • ectopic ATP synthase;
  • mitochondria;
  • myoplasm

Previously, we revealed that p58, one of the ascidian maternal factors, is identical to the alpha-subunit of F1-ATP synthase (ATPα), a protein complex of the inner mitochondrial membrane. In the current study, we used immunological probes for ascidian mitochondria components to show that the ascidian ATPα is ectopically localized to the cytosol. Virtually all mitochondrial components were localized to the mitochondria-rich myoplasm. However, in detail, ATP synthase subunits and the matrix proteins showed different localization patterns. At least at the crescent stage, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) distinguished the mitochondria-less, endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-rich cortical region and the mitochondria-rich internal region. ATPα was enriched in the cortical region and MnSOD was limited to the internal region. Using subcellular fractionation, although all of the mitochondria components were highly enriched in the mitochondria-enriched fraction, a considerable amount of ATPα and F1-ATP synthase beta-subunit (ATPβ) were recovered in the insoluble cytoplasmic fraction. Even under these conditions, F1-ATP synthase gamma-subunit (ATPγ) and F0-ATP synthase subunit b (ATPb) were not recovered in the insoluble cytoplasmic fraction. This result strongly supports the exomitochondrial localization of both ATPα and ATPβ. In addition, the detergent extraction of eggs supports the idea that these cytosolic ATP synthase subunits are associated with the egg cytoskeleton. These results suggest that the subunits of ATP synthase might play dual roles at different subcellular compartments during early development.