Intracellular localization of the Menkes and Wilson's disease proteins and their role in intracellular copper transport. Academic Article uri icon


  • Copper is a heavy metal ion essential for the activity of a variety of enzymes in the body. In excess, copper is a very toxic ion and therefore efficient regulation of its metabolism is required. This is dramatically illustrated by the genetic disorders X-linked Menkes disease and autosomal recessive Wilson's disease. In 1993, both the Menkes and Wilson's genes were isolated and it was found that these genes encode homologous cation copper transporting P-type ATPase proteins. The Menkes protein (ATP7A) is expressed in most tissues, except liver. In contrast, the Wilson's protein (ATP7B) is abundantly expressed in liver. Intracellular localization of those proteins was investigated. Both ATP7A and ATP7B are localized in the trans-Golgi network and post-Golgi vesicular compartment (PGVC) in the cell. This intracellular localization was altered by the copper content present in the cell. This result may support the hypothesis that ATP7A and ATP7B are involved in cellular copper transport and those proteins could be suitable models for elucidating intracellular copper metabolism.

publication date

  • August 1999