Reactive and potentially toxic cofactors such as copper ions are imported into eukaryotic cells and incorporated into target proteins by unknown mechanisms. Atx1, a prototypical copper chaperone protein from yeast, has now been shown to act as a soluble cytoplasmic copper(I) receptor that can adopt either a two- or three-coordinate metal center in the active site. Atx1 also associated directly with the Atx1-like cytosolic domains of Ccc2, a vesicular protein defined in genetic studies as a member of the copper- trafficking pathway. The unusual structure and dynamics of Atx1 suggest a copper exchange function for this protein and related domains in the Menkes and Wilson disease proteins.
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