Copper ions are toxic yet essential. They are transported through cell membranes by the protein Human Copper Transporter (hCTR1). Prof. Nir Ben-Tal and colleagues, Tel Aviv University, Israel, have created a computational model to demonstrate the structure, motion and function of hCTR1.
Using the cryoelectron microscopy map of hCTR1 and evolutionary data, they constructed a Cα-trace model of the membrane region. The model showed the protein’s main modes of motion and a molecular mechanism of copper transport in which the copper-binding motif serves both as a gate and as a selectivity filter.
These findings are significant as hCTR1 also carries the active chemotherapeutic agent cisplatin into cells and failure in copper transport may result in serious illnesses, such as hemophilia, anemia, diabetes and cardiac disorders.
- Cα-trace model of the transmembrane domain of human copper transporter 1, motion and functional implications
M. Schushana, Y. Barkana, T. Haliloglub, N. Ben-Tala,
Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 2010, 107(24), 10908-10913.