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J Biol Chem. 2001 Oct 12;276(41):38084-9. Epub 2001 Aug 10.

A fraction of yeast Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase and its metallochaperone, CCS, localize to the intermembrane space of mitochondria. A physiological role for SOD1 in guarding against mitochondrial oxidative damage.

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Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD1) is an abundant, largely cytosolic enzyme that scavenges superoxide anions. The biological role of SOD1 is somewhat controversial because superoxide is thought to arise largely from the mitochondria where a second SOD (manganese SOD) already resides. Using bakers' yeast as a model, we demonstrate that Cu,Zn-SOD1 helps protect mitochondria from oxidative damage, as sod1Delta mutants show elevated protein carbonyls in this organelle. In accordance with this connection to mitochondria, a fraction of active SOD1 localizes within the intermembrane space (IMS) of mitochondria together with its copper chaperone, CCS. Neither CCS nor SOD1 contains typical N-terminal presequences for mitochondrial uptake; however, the mitochondrial accumulation of SOD1 is strongly influenced by CCS. When CCS synthesis is repressed, mitochondrial SOD1 is of low abundance, and conversely IMS SOD1 is very high when CCS is largely mitochondrial. The mitochondrial form of SOD1 is indeed protective against oxidative damage because yeast cells enriched for IMS SOD1 exhibit prolonged survival in the stationary phase, an established marker of mitochondrial oxidative stress. Cu,Zn-SOD1 in the mitochondria appears important for reactive oxygen physiology and may have critical implications for SOD1 mutations linked to the fatal neurodegenerative disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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