Fre1p is a metalloreductase in the yeast plasma membrane that is essential to uptake of environmental Cu2+ and Fe3+. Fet3p is a multicopper oxidase in this membrane essential for high affinity iron uptake. In the uptake of Fe3+, Fre1p produces Fe2+ that is a substrate for Fet3p; the Fe3+ produced by Fet3p is a ligand for the iron permease, Ftr1p. Deletion of FET3 leads to iron deficiency; this deletion also causes a copper sensitivity not seen in wild type. Deletion of FTR1 leads to copper sensitivity also. Production in the ftr1delta strain of an iron-uptake negative Ftr1p mutant, Ftr1p(RAGLA), suppressed this copper sensitivity. This Ftr1p mutant supported the plasma membrane targeting of active Fet3p that is blocked in the parental ftr1delta strain. A ferroxidase-negative Fet3p did not suppress the copper sensitivity in a fet3delta strain, although it supported the plasma membrane localization of the Fet3p.Ftr1p complex. Thus, loss of membrane-associated Fet3p oxidase activity correlated with copper sensitivity. Furthermore, in vitro Cu1+ was shown to be an excellent substrate for Fet3p. Last, the copper sensitivity of the fet3delta strain was suppressed by co-deletion of FRE1, suggesting that the cytotoxic species was Cu1+. In contrast, deletion of CTR1 or of FET4 did not suppress the copper sensitivity in the fet3delta strain; these genes encode the two major copper transporters in laboratory yeast strains. This result indicated that the apparent cuprous ion toxicity was not due to excess intracellular copper. These biochemical and physiologic results indicate that at least with respect to cuprous and ferrous ions, Fet3p can be considered a metallo-oxidase and appears to play an essential role in both iron and copper homeostasis in yeast. Its functional homologs, e.g. ceruloplasmin and hephaestin, could play a similar role in mammals.
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