Copper exists in two oxidation states, cuprous (Cu1+) and cupric (Cu2+), which, respectively, can donate or accept electrons. The fact that copper has two readily interconvertible redox states makes it a catalytic co-factor for many important enzymes. Over the past years, work in a number of laboratories has clearly demonstrated that studies in yeast have served as a springboard for identifying cellular components and processes involved in copper uptake and distribution. In several cases, it has been shown that mammalian proteins are capable of functionally replacing yeast proteins, thereby revealing their remarkable functional conservation. For high-affinity copper transport into cells, it has been shown that copper transporters of the Ctr family are required. Upon entering the cell, copper is partitioned to different proteins and into different compartments within the cell. Given the potential toxicity of copper, specialized proteins bind copper after it enters the cell and subsequently donate the bound copper to their corresponding recipient proteins. Three copper-binding proteins, Ccs1, Cox17, and Atx1, have been identified that serve as "copper chaperones" to deliver copper. double dagger.
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