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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Jul 8;94(14):7481-6.

hCTR1: a human gene for copper uptake identified by complementation in yeast.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


The molecular mechanisms responsible for the cellular uptake of copper in mammalian cells are unknown. We describe isolation of a human gene involved in this process by complementation of the yeast high-affinity copper uptake mutant, ctr1. Besides complementing ctr1 growth defect on nonfermentable media, the human gene also rescues iron transport and SOD1 defects in ctr1 yeast. Overexpression of the gene in yeast leads to vulnerability to the toxicity of copper overload. In addition, its expression in ctr1 yeast significantly increases the level of cellular copper, as demonstrated by atomic absorption. We propose this gene as a candidate for high-affinity copper uptake in humans and by analogy have named it hCTR1. The hCTR1 and yeast CTR1 predicted transmembrane proteins are 29% identical, but the human protein is substantially smaller in both the extracellular metal-binding and intracellular domains. An additional human gene similar to hCTR1, here named hCTR2, was identified in a database search. Both hCTR1 and hCTR2 are expressed in all human tissues examined, and both genes are located in 9q31/32. These studies, together with the previously recognized functional and sequence similarity between the Menkes/Wilson copper export proteins and CCC2 in yeast, demonstrate that similar copper homeostatic mechanisms are used in these evolutionarily divergent organisms.

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