Decrease of cytochrome c oxidase protein in heart mitochondria of copper-deficient rats

Luisa Rossi, Giovanna Lippe, Eliana Marchese, Angelo De Martino, Irene Mavelli, Giuseppe Rotilio, Maria R. Ciriolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Copper deficiency has been reported to be associated with decreased cytochrome c oxidase activity, which in turn may be responsible for the observed mitochondrial impairment and cardiac failure. We isolated mitochondria from hearts of copper-deficient rats: cytochrome c oxidase activity was found to be lower than in copper-adequate mitochondria. The residual activity paralleled copper content of mitochondria and also corresponded with the heme amount associated with cytochrome aa3. In fact, lower absorption in the α-band region of cytochrome aa3 was found for copper-deficient rat heart mitochondria. Gel electrophoresis of protein extracted from mitochondrial membranes allowed measurements of protein content of the complexes of oxidative phosphorylation, revealing a lower content of complex IV protein in copper-deficient rat heart mitochondria. The alterations caused by copper deficiency appear to be specific for cytochrome c oxidase. Changes were not observed for F0F1ATP synthase activity, for heme contents of cytochrome c and b, and for protein contents of complexes I, III and V. The present study demonstrates that the alteration of cytochrome c oxidase activity observed in copper deficiency is due to a diminished content of assembled protein and that shortness of copper impairs heme insertion into cytochrome c oxidase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-212
Number of pages6
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Copper deficiency
  • Cytochrome c oxidase
  • Heart
  • Mitochondria
  • Rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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