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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2010 Aug;67(15):2563-89. doi: 10.1007/s00018-010-0330-x. Epub 2010 Mar 24.

Cellular copper distribution: a mechanistic systems biology approach.

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Department of Chemistry, Magnetic Resonance Center CERM, University of Florence, Via Luigi Sacconi 6, Sesto Fiorentino, Florence, Italy.


Copper is an essential but potentially harmful trace element required in many enzymatic processes involving redox chemistry. Cellular copper homeostasis in mammals is predominantly maintained by regulating copper transport through the copper import CTR proteins and the copper exporters ATP7A and ATP7B. Once copper is imported into the cell, several pathways involving a number of copper proteins are responsible for trafficking it specifically where it is required for cellular life, thus avoiding the release of harmful free copper ions. In this study we review recent progress made in understanding the molecular mechanisms of copper transport in cells by analyzing structural features of copper proteins, their mode of interaction, and their thermodynamic and kinetic parameters, thus contributing to systems biology of copper within the cell.

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