The Function of ATPase Copper Transporter ATP7B in Intestine

Hannah Pierson, Abigael Muchenditsi, Byung Eun Kim, Martina Ralle, Nicholas Zachos, Dominik Huster, Svetlana Lutsenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Background & Aims Wilson disease is a disorder of copper (Cu) misbalance caused by mutations in ATP7B. ATP7B is highly expressed in the liver—the major site of Cu accumulation in patients with Wilson disease. The intestine also expresses ATP7B, but little is known about the contribution of intestinal ATP7B to normal intestinal copper homeostasis or to Wilson disease manifestations. We characterized the role of ATP7B in mouse intestinal organoids and tissues. Methods We collected intestinal tissues from ATP7B-knockout (Atp7b−/−) and control mice, and established 3-dimensional enteroids. Immunohistochemistry and x-ray fluorescence were used to characterize the distribution of ATP7B and Cu in tissues. Electron microscopy, histologic analyses, and immunoblotting were used to determine the effects of ATP7B loss. Enteroids derived from control and ATP7B-knockout mice were incubated with excess Cu or with Cu-chelating reagents; effects on cell fat content and ATP7B levels and localization were determined by fluorescent confocal microscopy. Results ATP7B maintains a Cu gradient along the duodenal crypt−villus axis and buffers Cu levels in the cytosol of enterocytes. These functions are mediated by rapid Cu-dependent enlargement of ATP7B-containing vesicles and increased levels of ATP7B. Intestines of Atp7b−/− mice had reduced Cu storage pools in intestine, Cu depletion, accumulation of triglyceride-filled vesicles in enterocytes, mislocalization of apolipoprotein B, and loss of chylomicrons. In primary 3-dimensional enteroids, administration of excess Cu or Cu chelators impaired assembly of chylomicrons. Conclusions ATP7B regulates vesicular storage of Cu in mouse intestine. ATP7B buffers Cu levels in enterocytes to maintain a range necessary for formation of chylomicrons. Misbalance of Cu and lipid in the intestine could account for gastrointestinal manifestations of Wilson disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-180.e5
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • APOB
  • Chylomicron
  • Intestine
  • Wilson Disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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