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Met Ions Life Sci. 2013;12:417-50. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-5561-1_12.

The copper metallome in prokaryotic cells.

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Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Thorvaldsensvej 40, DK-1870, Frederiksberg C, Denmark.


As a trace element copper has an important role in cellular function like many other transition metals. Its ability to undergo redox changes [Cu(I) ↔ Cu(II)] makes copper an ideal cofactor in enzymes catalyzing electron transfers. However, this redox change makes copper dangerous for a cell since it is able to be involved in Fenton-like reactions creating reactive oxygen species (ROS). Cu(I) also is a strong soft metal and can attack and destroy iron-sulfur clusters thereby releasing iron which can in turn cause oxidative stress. Therefore, copper homeostasis has to be highly balanced to ensure proper cellular function while avoiding cell damage.Throughout evolution bacteria and archaea have developed a highly regulated balance in copper metabolism. While for many prokaryotes copper uptake seems to be unspecific, others have developed highly sophisticated uptake mechanisms to ensure the availability of sufficient amounts of copper. Within the cytoplasm copper is sequestered by various proteins and molecules, including specific copper chaperones, to prevent cellular damage. Copper-containing proteins are usually located in the cytoplasmic membrane with the catalytic domain facing the periplasm, in the periplasm of Gram-negative bacteria, or they are secreted, limiting the necessity of copper to accumulate in the cytoplasm. To prevent cellular damage due to excess copper, bacteria and archaea have developed various copper detoxification strategies. In this chapter we attempt to give an overview of the mechanisms employed by bacteria and archaea to handle copper and the importance of the metal for cellular function as well as in the global nutrient cycle.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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