Copper (Cu) is an important enzyme co-factor that is also extremely toxic at high intracellular concentrations, making active efflux mechanisms essential for preventing Cu accumulation. Here, we have investigated the mechanistic role of metallochaperones in regulating Cu efflux. We have constructed a computational model of Cu trafficking and efflux based on systems analysis of the Cu stress response of Halobacterium salinarum. We have validated several model predictions via assays of transcriptional dynamics and intracellular Cu levels, discovering a completely novel function for metallochaperones. We demonstrate that in addition to trafficking Cu ions, metallochaperones also function as buffers to modulate the transcriptional responsiveness and efficacy of Cu efflux. This buffering function of metallochaperones ultimately sets the upper limit for intracellular Cu levels and provides a mechanistic explanation for previously observed Cu metallochaperone mutation phenotypes.
Full Paper →
Pang, W.L., Kaur, A., Ratushny, A.V., Cvetkovic, A., Kumar, S., Pan, M., Arkin, A.P., Aitchison, J.D., Adams, M.W., Baliga, N.S. (2013) Metallochaperones regulate intracellular copper levels. PLoS Comput Biol 9(1): e1002880. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002880