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J Nutr. 2007 Jan;137(1):14-8.

Copper deficiency decreases complex IV but not complex I, II, III, or V in the mitochondrial respiratory chain in rat heart.

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USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58202-9034, USA.


It has been documented that dietary copper (Cu) deficiency impairs mitochondrial respiratory function, which is catalyzed by 5 membrane-bound multiple protein complexes. However, there are few reports on the simultaneous analysis of Cu effect on the subunit protein expression on all 5 protein complexes. The present study was undertaken to determine the effect of Cu deficiency on each mitochondrial respiratory complex's protein expression in rat heart tissue with western-blot analysis. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were fed diets that were either Cu adequate (6.0 microg Cu/g diet, n = 5) or Cu deficient (0.3 microg Cu/g diet, n = 5) for 5 wk. The monoclonal antibody-based western-blot analysis suggested that the protein levels of 39-kDa and 30-kDa subunits in complex I; 70-kDa and 30-kDa subunits in complex II; core I and core II subunits in complex III; and alpha and beta subunits of F1 complex in complex V in both high-salt buffer (HSB) and low-salt buffer (LSB) protein fractions from heart tissue of Cu-deficient rats did not differ from those of Cu-adequate rats. However, the protein level of cytochrome c oxidase (CCO) subunit (COX) I, COX Vb, and COX VIb subunits in complex IV (CCO) in both HSB and LSB protein fractions from heart tissue of Cu-deficient rats was lower than those of Cu-adequate rats. Collectively, these data demonstrate that Cu deficiency decreases each tested subunit protein expression of complex IV but not those of complex I, II, III, and V in mitochondrial respiratory complexes.

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