Implicated in mitochondrial protein import and macromolecular assembly. May facilitate the correct folding of imported proteins. May also prevent misfolding and promote the refolding and proper assembly of unfolded polypeptides generated under stress conditions in the mitochondrial matrix.
Defects in HSPD1 are a cause of spastic paraplegia autosomal dominant type 13 (SPG13) [MIM:605280]. Spastic paraplegia is a degenerative spinal cord disorder characterized by a slow, gradual, progressive weakness and spasticity of the lower limbs. Defects in HSPD1 are the cause of leukodystrophy hypomyelinating type 4 (HLD4) [MIM:612233]; also called mitochondrial HSP60 chaperonopathy or MitCHAP-60 disease. HLD4 is a severe autosomal recessive hypomyelinating leukodystrophy. Clinically characterized by infantile-onset rotary nystagmus, progressive spastic paraplegia, neurologic regression, motor impairment, profound mental retardation. Death usually occurrs within the first two decades of life.