Structural basis for copper transfer by the metallochaperone for the Menkes/Wilson disease proteins

Amy K. Wernimont, David L. Huffman, Audrey L. Lamb, Thomas V. O'Halloran, Amy C. Rosenzweig*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

364 Scopus citations


The Hah1 metallochaperone protein is implicated in copper delivery to the Menkes and Wilson disease proteins. Hah1 and the N-termini of its target proteins belong to a family of metal binding domains characterized by a conserved MT/HCXXC sequence motif. The crystal structure of Hah1 has been determined in the presence of Cu(I), Hg(II), and Cd(II). The 1.8 Å resolution structure of CuHah1 reveals a copper ion coordinated by Cys residues from two adjacent Hah1 molecules. The CuHah1 crystal structure is the first of a copper chaperone bound to copper and provides structural support for direct metal ion exchange between conserved MT/HCXXC motifs in two domains. The structures of HgHah1 and CdHah1, determined to 1.75 Å resolution, also reveal metal ion coordination by two MT/HCXXC motifs. An extended hydrogen bonding network, unique to the complex of two Hah1 molecules, stabilizes the metal binding sites and suggests specific roles for several conserved residues. Taken together, the structures provide models for intermediates in metal ion transfer and suggest a detailed molecular mechanism for protein recognition and metal ion exchange between MT/HCXXC containing domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)766-771
Number of pages6
JournalNature Structural Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry


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