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Cancer Res. 2012 Sep 15;72(18):4616-21. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-0888. Epub 2012 Sep 7.

Role of the human high-affinity copper transporter in copper homeostasis regulation and cisplatin sensitivity in cancer chemotherapy.

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Department of Molecular Pathology, The University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77054, USA.


The high-affinity copper transporter (Ctr1; SCLC31A1) plays an important role in regulating copper homeostasis because copper is an essential micronutrient and copper deficiency is detrimental to many important cellular functions, but excess copper is toxic. Recent research has revealed that human copper homeostasis is tightly controlled by interregulatory circuitry involving copper, Sp1, and human (hCtr1). This circuitry uses Sp1 transcription factor as a copper sensor in modulating hCtr1 expression, which in turn controls cellular copper and Sp1 levels in a 3-way mutual regulatory loop. Posttranslational regulation of hCtr1 expression by copper stresses has also been described in the literature. Because hCtr1 can also transport platinum drugs, this finding underscores the important role of hCtr1 in platinum-drug sensitivity in cancer chemotherapy. Consistent with this notion is the finding that elevated hCtr1 expression was associated with favorable treatment outcomes in cisplatin-based cancer chemotherapy. Moreover, cultured cell studies showed that elevated hCtr1 expression can be induced by depleting cellular copper levels, resulting in enhanced cisplatin uptake and its cell-killing activity. A phase I clinical trial using a combination of trientine (a copper chelator) and carboplatin has been carried out with encouraging results. This review discusses new insights into the role of hCtr1 in regulating copper homeostasis and explains how modulating cellular copper availability could influence treatment efficacy in platinum-based cancer chemotherapy through hCtr1 regulation.

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