Tropoelastin production and tropoelastin messenger RNA activity. Relationship to copper and elastin cross-linking in chick aorta

D. Tinker, J. Geller, N. Romero, C. E. Cross, R. B. Rucker

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7 Scopus citations


The elastin content of the chick thoracic aorta increases 2-3-fold during the first 3 weeks post-hatching. The deposition of elastin requires the covalent cross-linking of tropoelastin by means of lysine-derived cross-links. This process is sensitive to dietary copper intake, since copper serves as cofactor for lysyl oxidase, the enzyme that catalyses the oxidative deamination of the lysine residues involved in cross-link formation. Disruption of cross-linking alters tissue concentrations of both elastin and tropoelastin and results in a net decrease in aortic elastin content. Autoregulation of tropoelastin synthesis by changes in the pool sizes of elastin or tropoelastin has been suggested as a possible mechanism for the diminished aortic elastin content. Consequently, dietary copper deficiency was induced to study the effect of impaired elastin cross-link formation on tropoelastin synthesis. Elastin in aortae from copper-deficient chicks was only two-thirds to one-half the amount measured in copper-supplemented chicks, whereas copper-deficient concentrations of tropoelastin in aorta were at least 5-fold higher than normal. In spite of these changes, however, increased amounts of tropoelastin, copper deficiency and decreased amounts of elastin did not influence the amounts of functional elastin mRNA in aorta. Likewise, the production of tropoelastin in aorta explants was the same whether the explants were taken from copper-sufficient or -deficient birds. The lower accumulation of elastin in aorta from copper-deficient chicks appeared to be due to extracellular proteolysis, rather than to a decrease in the rate of synthesis. Electrophoresis of aorta extracts, followed by immunological detection of tropoelastin-derived products, indicated degradation products in aortae from copper-deficient birds. In extracts of aortae from copper-sufficient chicks, tropoelastin was not degraded and appeared to be incorporated into elastin without further proteolytic processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-23
Number of pages7
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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