The mitochondrial outer membrane (MOM) harbors proteins that traverse the membrane via several helical segments and are called multi-span proteins. To obtain new insights into the biogenesis of these proteins, we utilized yeast mitochondria and the multi-span protein Om14. Testing different truncation variants, we show that while only the full-length protein contains all the information that assures perfect targeting specificity, shorter variants are targeted to mitochondria with compromised fidelity. Employing a specific insertion assay and various deletion strains, we show that proteins exposed to the cytosol do not contribute significantly to the biogenesis process. We further demonstrate that Mim1 and Porin support optimal membrane integration of Om14 but none of them are absolutely required. Unfolding of newly synthesized Om14, its optimal hydrophobicity, and higher fluidity of the membrane enhanced the import capacity of Om14. Collectively, these findings suggest that MOM multi-span proteins follow different biogenesis pathways in which proteinaceous elements and membrane behavior contribute to a variable extent to the combined efficiency.

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