Copper is an essential metal but its overload causes Wilson disease, a disorder due to mutations in copper transporter ATP7B. To remove excess copper into the bile, ATP7B traffics toward canalicular area of hepatocytes. However, the trafficking mechanisms of ATP7B remain elusive. Polishchuk and colleagues show that, in response to elevated copper, ATP7B moves from the Golgi to lysosomes and imports metal into their lumen. ATP7B enables lysosomes to undergo exocytosis through the interaction with p62 subunit of dynactin that allows lysosome translocation toward the canalicular pole of hepatocytes. Activation of lysosomal exocytosis stimulates copper clearance from the hepatocytes and rescues the most frequent Wilson-disease-causing ATP7B mutant to the appropriate functional site. This findings indicate that lysosomes serve as an important intermediate in ATP7B trafficking, whereas lysosomal exocytosis operates as an integral process in copper excretion and hence can be targeted for therapeutic approaches to combat Wilson disease.
Posted by Nicola Brunetti-Pierri, MD