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J Biol Chem. 1988 Jan 15;263(2):799-805.

Brain tissue accumulates 67copper by two ligand-dependent saturable processes. A high affinity, low capacity and a low affinity, high capacity process.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Texas Health Science Center, Dallas 75235.


We characterized the mechanism of copper accumulation by the brain, using rat hypothalamic tissue slices incubated with 67Cu as a model system. Two ligand-dependent saturable processes were discerned: a high affinity, low capacity process and a low affinity, high capacity process. Vo versus [S] for the high affinity process was a hyperbolic function having an apparent Km and Vmax of 6 microM copper and 23 pmol/min/mg protein, respectively. Vo versus [S] for the low affinity process was a sigmoidal function having an "apparent Km" (So5) and maximal velocity at saturating [S] of 40 microM copper and 425 pmol/min/mg protein, respectively. The two processes were similar in that each exhibited: (a) a requirement for complexing of copper for optimal 67Cu accumulation; (b) a broad ligand specificity with respect to amino acids (histidine, cysteine, threonine, glycine) and peptides (Gly-His-Lys, glutathione) and ineffectiveness of albumin in serving as a facilitatory ligand; (c) a requirement for thermic but not metabolic energy. In spite of these similarities, a 50- or 1000-fold molar excess of ligand (histidine) inhibited 67Cu accumulation by the low affinity process by 60 and 85%, respectively, whereas excess histidine facilitated 67Cu accumulation by the high affinity process by 1.6-4-fold. These results are consistent with 1) a carrier-mediated facilitated diffusion, analogous to that of neutral amino acids, as a means of transporting complexed copper into brain tissue, and 2) the existence of two distinct carrier sites interacting in a positive cooperative manner: a high and a low affinity site.

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