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J Biol Chem. 2002 Nov 29;277(48):46676-86. Epub 2002 Sep 18.

Ctr6, a vacuolar membrane copper transporter in Schizosaccharomyces pombe.

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  • 1D√©partement de Biochimie, Universit√© de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec J1H 5N4, Canada.


Aerobic organisms possess efficient systems for the transport of copper. This involves transporters that mediate the passage of copper across biological membranes to reach essential intracellular copper-requiring enzymes. In this report, we identify a new copper transporter in Schizosaccharomyces pombe, encoded by the ctr6(+) gene. The transcription of ctr6(+) is induced under copper-limiting conditions. This regulation is mediated by the cis-acting promoter element CuSE (copper-signaling element) through the copper-sensing transcription factor Cuf1. An S. pombe strain bearing a disrupted ctr6Delta allele displays a strong reduction of copper,zinc superoxide dismutase activity. When the ctr6+ gene is overexpressed from the thiamine-inducible nmt1(+) promoter, the cells are unable to grow on medium containing exogenous copper. Surprisingly, this copper-sensitive growth phenotype is not due to an increase of copper uptake at the cell surface. Instead, copper delivery across the plasma membrane is reduced. Consistently, this results in repressing ctr4(+) gene expression. By using a functional ctr6(+) epitope-tagged allele expressed under the control of its own promoter, we localize the Ctr6 protein on the membrane of vacuoles. Furthermore, we demonstrate that Ctr6 is an integral membrane protein that can trimerize. Moreover, we show that Ctr6 harbors a putative copper-binding Met-X-His-Cys-X-Met-X-Met motif in the amino terminus, which is essential for its function. Our findings suggest that under conditions in which copper is scarce, Ctr6 is required as a means to mobilize stored copper from the vacuole to the cytosol.

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