Essential role for Atox1 in the copper-mediated intracellular trafficking of the Menkes ATPase. Academic Article uri icon


  • The metallochaperone Atox1 directly interacts with the copper-transporting ATPases and plays a critical role in perinatal copper homeostasis. To determine the cell biological mechanisms of Atox1 function, intracellular copper metabolism, and Menkes ATPase abundance, localization and trafficking were examined in immortalized fibroblast cell lines derived from Atox1(+/+) and Atox1(-/-) embryos. Consistent with the proposed role for Atox1 in copper delivery to the secretory pathway, a marked increase in intracellular copper content secondary to impaired copper efflux was observed in Atox1-deficient cells. Although the localization of the Menkes ATPase was identical in Atox1(+/+) and Atox1(-/-) cells under conditions of equivalent intracellular copper content, a significant impairment in copper-mediated Menkes ATPase trafficking was observed in the absence of Atox1. When quantitative confocal immunofluorescence was used, significant differences in the time and dose-dependent trafficking of the Menkes ATPase from the Golgi compartment in response to copper were observed between Atox1(+/+) and Atox1(-/-) cells. These data reveal an essential role for Atox1 in establishing the threshold for copper-dependent movement of the copper-transporting ATPases within the secretory compartment and that, in the absence of Atox1, this movement alone is not sufficient to restore normal copper efflux. Taken together, these findings provide a cell biological model for the role of this metallochaperone under the physiological conditions of copper limitation in mammalian cells.

publication date

  • February 4, 2003