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

Thomas J. Lawton, Grace E. Kenney, Joseph D. Hurley, Amy C. Rosenzweig*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2278-2290
Number of pages13
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 3 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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