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The CopC Family: Structural and Bioinformatic Insights into a Diverse Group of Periplasmic Copper Binding Proteins

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posted on 24.03.2016, 00:00 by Thomas J. Lawton, Grace E. Kenney, Joseph D. Hurley, Amy C. Rosenzweig
The CopC proteins are periplasmic copper binding proteins believed to play a role in bacterial copper homeostasis. Previous studies have focused on CopCs that are part of seven-protein Cop or Pco systems involved in copper resistance. These canonical CopCs contain distinct Cu­(I) and Cu­(II) binding sites. Mounting evidence suggests that CopCs are more widely distributed, often present only with the CopD inner membrane protein, frequently as a fusion protein, and that the CopC and CopD proteins together function in the uptake of copper to the cytoplasm. In the methanotroph Methylosinus trichosporium OB3b, genes encoding a CopCD pair are located adjacent to the particulate methane monooxygenase (pMMO) operon. The CopC from this organism (Mst-CopC) was expressed, purified, and structurally characterized. The 1.46 Å resolution crystal structure of Mst-CopC reveals a single Cu­(II) binding site with coordination somewhat different from that in canonical CopCs, and the absence of a Cu­(I) binding site. Extensive bioinformatic analyses indicate that the majority of CopCs in fact contain only a Cu­(II) site, with just 10% of sequences corresponding to the canonical two-site CopC. Accordingly, a new classification scheme for CopCs was developed, and detailed analyses of the sequences and their genomic neighborhoods reveal new proteins potentially involved in copper homeostasis, providing a framework for expanded models of CopCD function.