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J Am Chem Soc. 2012 May 9;134(18):7773-9. doi: 10.1021/ja212138e. Epub 2012 May 1.

Phosphatidylserine reversibly binds Cu2+ with extremely high affinity.

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Department of Chemistry, Texas A&M University, 3255 TAMU, College Station, Texas 77843, USA.


Phosphatidylserine (PS) embedded within supported lipid bilayers was found to bind Cu(2+) from solution with extraordinarily high affinity. In fact, the equilibrium dissociation constant was in the femtomolar range. The resulting complex formed in a 1:2 Cu(2+)-to-PS ratio and quenches a broad spectrum of lipid-bound fluorophores in a reversible and pH-dependent fashion. At acidic pH values, the fluorophores were almost completely unquenched, while at basic pH values significant quenching (85-90%) was observed. The pH at which the transition occurred was dependent on the PS concentration and ranged from approximately pH 5 to 8. The quenching kinetics was slow at low Cu(2+) concentrations and basic pH values (up to several hours), while the unquenching reaction was orders of magnitude more rapid upon lowering the pH. This was consistent with diffusion-limited complex formation at basic pH but rapid dissociation under acidic conditions. The tight binding of Cu(2+) to PS may have physiological consequences under certain circumstances.

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