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EMBO J. 1996 Jul 15;15(14):3515-23.

Copper-dependent degradation of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae plasma membrane copper transporter Ctr1p in the apparent absence of endocytosis.

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Cell Biology and Metabolism Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The cell surface protein repertoire needs to be regulated in response to changes in the extracellular environment. In this study, we investigate protein turnover of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae plasma membrane copper transporter Ctr1p, in response to a change in extra-cellular copper levels. As Ctr1p mediates high affinity uptake of copper into the cell, modulation of its expression is expected to be involved in copper homeostasis. We demonstrate that Ctr1p is a stable protein when cells are grown in low concentrations of copper, but that exposure of cells to high concentrations of copper (10 microM) triggers degradation of cell surface Ctr1p. This degradation appears to be specific for Ctr1p and does not occur with another yeast plasma membrane protein tested. Internalization of some Ctr1p can be seen when cells are exposed to copper. However, yeast mutant strains defective in endocytosis (end3, end4 and chc1-ts) and vacuolar degradation (pep4) exhibit copper-dependent Ctr1p degradation, indicating that internalization and delivery to the vacuole is not the principal mechanism responsible for degradation. In addition, a variant Ctr1p with a deletion in the cytosolic tail is not internalized upon exposure of cells to copper, but is nevertheless degraded. These observations indicate that proteolysis at the plasma membrane most likely explains copper-dependent turnover of Ctr1p and point to the existence of a novel pathway in yeast for plasma membrane protein turnover.

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