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Unification of the copper(I) binding affinities of the metallo-chaperones Atx1, Atox1, and related proteins : Detection probes and affinity standards

journal contribution
posted on 2011-04-01, 00:00 authored by Z Xiao, J Brose, S Schimo, Susan Ackland, Sharon La FontaineSharon La Fontaine, A Wedd
Literature estimates of metal-protein affinities are widely scattered for many systems, as highlighted by the class of metallo-chaperone proteins, which includes human Atox1. The discrepancies may be attributed to unreliable detection probes and/or inconsistent affinity standards. In this study, application of the four CuI ligand probes bicinchoninate, bathocuproine disulfonate, dithiothreitol (Dtt), and glutathione (GSH) is reviewed, and their CuI affinities are re-estimated and unified. Excess bicinchoninate or bathocuproine disulfonate reacts with CuI to yield distinct 1:2 chromatophoric complexes [CuIL2] 3- with formation constants β2 = 1017.2 and 1019.8 M-2, respectively. These constants do not depend on proton concentration for pH ≥7.0. Consequently, they are a pair of complementary and stable probes capable of detecting free Cu+ concentrations from 10-12 to 10-19 M. Dtt binds CuI with KD∼10-15 M at pH 7, but it is air-sensitive, and its CuI affinity varies with pH. The CuI binding properties of Atox1 and related proteins (including the fifth and sixth domains at the N terminus of the Wilson protein ATP7B) were assessed with these probes. The results demonstrate the following: (i) their use permits the stoichiometry of high affinity CuI binding and the individual quantitative affinities (KD values) to be determined reliably via noncompetitive and competitive reactions, respectively; (ii) the scattered literature values are unified by using reliable probes on a unified scale; and (iii) Atox1-type proteins bind CuI with sub-femtomolar affinities, consistent with tight control of labile Cu+ concentrations in living cells.



Journal of biological chemistry






11047 - 11055


American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


Bethesda, Md.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2011, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology