Transcription factor Sp1 plays an important role in the regulation of copper homeostasis in mammalian cells

Im Sook Song, Helen H.W. Chen, Isamu Aiba, Anwar Hossain, Zheng D. Liang, Leo W.J. Klomp, Macus Tien Kuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


Copper is an essential metal nutrient, yet copper overload is toxic. Here, we report that human copper transporter (hCtr) 1 plays an important role in the maintenance of copper homeostasis by demonstrating that expression of hCtr1 mRNA was up-regulated under copper-depleted conditions and down-regulated under copper-replete conditions. Overexpression of full-length hCtr1 by transfection with a recombinant hCtr1 cDNA clone reduced endogenous hCtr1 mRNA levels, whereas overexpression of N terminus-deleted hCtr1 did not change endogenous hCtr1 mRNA levels, suggesting that increased functional hCtr1 transporter, which leads to increased intracellular copper content, down-regulates the endogenous hCtr1 mRNA. A luciferase assay using reporter constructs containing the hCtr1 promoter sequences revealed that three Sp1 binding sites are involved in the basal and copper concentration-dependent regulation of hCtr1 expression. Modulation of Sp1 levels affected the expression of hCtr1. We further demonstrated that the zinc-finger domain of Sp1 functions as a sensor of copper that regulates hCtr1 up and down in response to copper concentration variations. Our results demonstrate that mammalian copper homeostasis is maintained at the hCtr1 mRNA level, which is regulated by the Sp1 transcription factor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-713
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Pharmacology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Sep

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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