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Many mitochondrial proteins contain N-terminal presequences that direct them to the organelle. The main driving force for their translocation across the inner membrane is provided by the presequence translocase-associated motor (PAM) which contains the J-protein Pam18. Here, we show that in the PAM of Trypanosoma brucei the function of Pam18 has been replaced by the non-orthologous euglenozoan-specific J-protein TbPam27. TbPam27 is specifically required for the import of mitochondrialdoi:10.7554/elife.52560.sa1 fatcat:hvikkqhjazajza2ail4gjbllmm