Cu(I) Binding And Transfer By The N Terminus Of The Wilson Disease Protein

Liliya A. Yatsunyk, Swarthmore College
A. C. Rosenzweig


Wilson and Menkes diseases are genetic disorders of copper metabolism caused by mutations in the Wilson (WND) and Menkes (MNK) copper-transporting P1B-type ATPases. The N termini of these ATPases consist of six metal binding domains (MBDs). The MBDs interact with the copper chaperone Atox1 and are believed to play roles in catalysis and in copper-mediated cellular relocalization of WND and MNK. Although all six MBDs have similar folds and bind one Cu(I) ion via a conserved CXXC motif, biochemical and genetic data suggest that they have distinct functions. Most studies aimed at characterizing the MBDs have employed smaller polypeptides consisting of one or two domains. The role of each MBD is probably defined by its environment within the six-domain N terminus, however. To study the properties of the individual domains within the context of the intact Wilson N terminus (N-WND), a series of variants in which five of the six metal binding CXXC motifs are mutated to SXXS was generated. For each variant, the Cu(I) binding affinity and the ability to exchange Cu(I) with Atox1 were investigated. The results indicate that Atox1 can deliver Cu(I) to and remove Cu(I) from each MBD, that each MBD has stronger Cu(I) retention properties than Atox1, and that all of the MBDs as well as Atox1 have similar K(Cu) values of (2.2-6.3) x 10(10) m(-1). Therefore, the specific role of each MBD is not conferred by its position within the intact N-WND but may be related to interactions with other domains and partner proteins.