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The Journal of biological chemistry

Ctr1 is an apical copper transporter in mammalian intestinal epithelial cells in vivo that is controlled at the level of protein stability.


PMID 20699218

Abstract

Copper is an essential trace element that functions in a diverse array of biochemical processes that include mitochondrial respiration, neurotransmitter biogenesis, connective tissue maturation, and reactive oxygen chemistry. The Ctr1 protein is a high-affinity Cu(+) importer that is structurally and functionally conserved in yeast, plants, fruit flies, and humans and that, in all of these organisms, is localized to the plasma membrane and intracellular vesicles. Although intestinal epithelial cell-specific deletion of Ctr1 in mice demonstrated a critical role for Ctr1 in dietary copper absorption, some controversy exists over the localization of Ctr1 in intestinal epithelial cells in vivo. In this work, we assess the localization of Ctr1 in intestinal epithelial cells through two independent mechanisms. Using immunohistochemistry, we demonstrate that Ctr1 localizes to the apical membrane in intestinal epithelial cells of the mouse, rat, and pig. Moreover, biotinylation of intestinal luminal proteins from mice fed a control or a copper-deficient diet showed elevated levels of both total and apical membrane Ctr1 protein in response to transient dietary copper limitation. Experiments in cultured HEK293T cells demonstrated that alterations in the levels of the glycosylated form of Ctr1 in response to copper availability were a time-dependent, copper-specific posttranslational response. Taken together, these results demonstrate apical localization of Ctr1 in intestinal epithelia across three mammalian species and suggest that increased Ctr1 apical localization in response to dietary copper limitation may represent an adaptive response to homeostatically modulate Ctr1 availability at the site of intestinal copper absorption.