Copper chaperones: function, structure and copper-binding properties
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Copper is an absolute requirement for living systems and the intracellular trafficking of this metal to copper-dependent proteins is fundamental to normal cellular metabolism. The copper chaperones perform the dual functions of trafficking and the prevention of cytoplasmic exposure to copper ions in transit. Only a small number of copper chaperones have been identified at this time but their conservation across plant, bacterial and animal species suggests that the majority of living systems utilise these proteins for copper routing. The available data suggest that each copper-dependent protein in the cell is served by a specific copper chaperone. Although copper chaperones cannot be substituted for one another in a given cell type, copper chaperones that deliver to the same protein in different cell types appear to be functionally equivalent. The majority of the copper chaperones identified thus far have an "open-faced β-sandwich" global fold with a conserved MXCXXC metal-binding motif. Specificity for a given copper-dependent protein appears to be mediated by the residues surrounding the copper-binding motif. Copper binds to such proteins as Cu(I) in a trigonal complex with three sulfur ligands. Only the copper chaperone specific for cytochrome-c-oxidase, Cox17, deviates from this design.
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