- Assembly of a functional mitochondrion requires import of proteins from the cytosol and export of proteins from the matrix. Most previous studies have focused on the import pathway followed by nucleus-encoded proteins. However, it is now clear that proteins encoded in the nucleus as well as those encoded in the mitochondrion also move from the matrix into and across the inner membrane, a process defined here as export. These exported proteins are found in at least three cellular locations: the inner mitochondrial membrane, the intermembrane space and the cell surface. Here, we consider the pathways for export and the relationships between import and export.