Effect of the toxic milk mutation (tx) on the function and intracellular localization of Wnd, the murine homologue of the Wilson copper ATPase.Hum Mol Genet. 2001 Feb 15; 10(4):361-70.HM
Wilson disease is an autosomal recessive copper transport disorder resulting from defective biliary excretion of copper and subsequent hepatic copper accumulation and liver failure if not treated. The disease is caused by mutations in the ATP7B (WND) gene, which is expressed predominantly in the liver and encodes a copper-transporting P-type ATPase that is structurally and functionally similar to the Menkes protein (MNK), which is defective in the X-linked copper transport disorder Menkes disease. The toxic milk (tx) mouse has a clinical phenotype similar to Wilson disease patients and, recently, the tx mutation within the murine WND homologue (WND:) of this mouse was identified, establishing it as an animal model for Wilson disease. In this study, cDNA constructs encoding the wild-type (Wnd-wt) and mutant (Wnd-tx) Wilson proteins (Wnd) were generated and expressed in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. The tx mutation disrupted the copper-induced relocalization of Wnd in CHO cells and abrogated Wnd-mediated copper resistance of transfected CHO cells. In addition, co-localization experiments demonstrated that while Wnd and MNK are located in the trans-Golgi network in basal copper conditions, with elevated copper, these proteins are sorted to different destinations within the same cell. Ultrastructural studies showed that with elevated copper levels, Wnd accumulated in large multi-vesicular structures resembling late endosomes that may represent a novel compartment for copper transport. The data presented provide further support for a relationship between copper transport activity and the copper-induced relocalization response of mammalian copper ATPases, and an explanation at a molecular level for the observed phenotype of tx mice.