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I am learning about the mitochondria and I know there are proteins present in the mitochondrial matrix such as SOD2, but I was wondering for a protein to be located on the surface of the mitochondria does it always have to be a membrane protein (e.g. inserted within or associated with the mitochondrial outer membrane) or can other proteins which are not membrane proteins be present on the mitochondrial surface? Any insights are appreciated.

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    $\begingroup$ What kind of protein? Do antimitocondrial antibodies count? What function might it have, to be near but not integral to the mitochondrial surface? I'm not sure what you're asking. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 21, 2021 at 3:24
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    $\begingroup$ I believe that one needs to think chemically about this. If a protein is present on the surface of a membrane, there has to be an interaction causing it to be there. By definition such a protein will be a membrane protein — either integral or peripheral. So are you asking whether there are peripheral outer membrane proteins? $\endgroup$
    – David
    Commented Mar 22, 2021 at 14:56

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Yes, integral membrane proteins interact with and form complexes with proteins that do not directly interact with the membrane.

Signal transduction often occurs when a soluble protein comes in from somewhere else and touches a membrane-bound protein.

Complexes often take the form of one anchored protein bound to additional proteins.

You can look at the full list of proteins associated with the mitochondrial membrane here, i bet if you go through them you will start to find ones that don't have a membrane-inserted domain.

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