Contact: Poul Nissen
Caption: It may not look like much, and it is no more than a couple of nanometers in size, but it is nevertheless this copper pump that safeguards the body's cells against copper poisoning. When the individual parts of the copper pump (indicated in different colors) turn in relation to each other, the passage of copper ions is opened and shut in the cell membrane, marked between the grey and turquoise parts in the membrane. The turquoise and grey elements are the copper pump's membrane-bound part with markings of individual segments of the amino acid sequence (MA, MB, M1–M6) and a couple of specific amino acids (E189 and M717), which are crucial for the excretion of copper. The yellow spheres mark the copper's route through the protein and out of the cell, as analyzed by computer simulations by the Californian working partners in the research project.
Credit: Illustrations: Daniel Mattle and Magnus Andersson
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Related news release: How the cells remove copper