, Volume 67, Issue 15, pp 2563-2589
Date: 24 Mar 2010

Cellular copper distribution: a mechanistic systems biology approach

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Copper is an essential but potentially harmful trace element required in many enzymatic processes involving redox chemistry. Cellular copper homeostasis in mammals is predominantly maintained by regulating copper transport through the copper import CTR proteins and the copper exporters ATP7A and ATP7B. Once copper is imported into the cell, several pathways involving a number of copper proteins are responsible for trafficking it specifically where it is required for cellular life, thus avoiding the release of harmful free copper ions. In this study we review recent progress made in understanding the molecular mechanisms of copper transport in cells by analyzing structural features of copper proteins, their mode of interaction, and their thermodynamic and kinetic parameters, thus contributing to systems biology of copper within the cell.