Copper (Cu) is an essential trace element for normal growth and development. The dysregulation of Cu homeostasis causes severe human diseases that include Menkes disease, Wilson?s disease, myeloneuropathy, and cardiomyopathy. Cells have evolved sophisticated homeostatic mechanisms for the regulation of Cu acquisition and distribution, and organs communicate to ensure that Cu is distributed appropriately throughout the body, balancing cellular requirements. All organismal Cu must pass through the intestine prior to distribution to other tissues. Therefore, cross-communication must take place among tissue types to ensure that Cu import and export from the intestine are coordinated with extra-intestinal tissue Cu requirements. Based on his postdoctoral work, the PI has proposed an inter-organ regulatory mechanism for Cu homeostasis, as the cardiac-specific knockout mouse of the high-affinity Cu importer, Ctr1 (Ctr1hrt/hrt) exhibited dramatically elevated levels of the ATP7A Cu efflux pump in the liver and intestine, suggesting the existence of an organismal level Cu sensing signal that communicates a cardiac Cu deficiency to the primary site of Cu storage and uptake organ. However, whether this phenotype is a consequence of a pleiotropic cardiac pathology or an organismal Cu homeostasis mechanism remains elusive. The current proposal seeks to identify the molecular nature of this systemic Cu signaling pathway, thereby making significant progress towards our understanding of the roles of systemic Cu deficiency and dysregulation in human health. Furthermore, we plan to include genetic and molecular approaches to identify the mechanisms of cellular and systemic Cu homeostasis by utilizing the genetically tractable and optically amenable animal model Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), as preliminary studies in this organism have established that Cu- homeostasis in C. elegans is tightly regulated and strongly conserved to mammalian Cu absorption. We outline three specific aims to gain insights into how animals regulate and integrate systemic Cu homeostasis: (1) Identify and characterize the molecular mechanisms of organ-specific Cu homeostasis in response to changes in peripheral Cu demands. (2) Identify the inter-organ plasma factor that signals systemic Cu deficiency. (3) Use C. elegans to identify the animal intestinal component responsible for CUA-1 (ATP7A/B) regulation in response to systemic Cu status.

Public Health Relevance

Copper is an essential mineral for sustaining life, yet it is toxic when misplaced or accumulated in excess. The proper acquisition, distribution and utilization of copper and the regulation of copper metabolism are vital to normal human health. This project aims to gain mechanistic insights into how animals regulate and integrate copper homeostasis at the organismal level to allow better diagnosis and treatment of diseases caused by copper imbalance.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Research Project (R01)
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Integrative Nutrition and Metabolic Processes Study Section (INMP)
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Maruvada, Padma
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University of Maryland College Park
Veterinary Sciences
Earth Sciences/Resources
College Park
United States
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Pierson, Hannah; Muchenditsi, Abigael; Kim, Byung-Eun et al. (2018) The Function of ATPase Copper Transporter ATP7B in Intestine. Gastroenterology 154:168-180.e5
Soma, Shivatheja; Latimer, Andrew J; Chun, Haarin et al. (2018) Elesclomol restores mitochondrial function in genetic models of copper deficiency. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 115:8161-8166
Yuan, Sai; Sharma, Anuj Kumar; Richart, Alexandria et al. (2018) CHCA-1 is a copper-regulated CTR1 homolog required for normal development, copper accumulation, and copper-sensing behavior in Caenorhabditis elegans. J Biol Chem 293:10911-10925