Copper blocks V-ATPase activity and SNARE complex formation to inhibit yeast vacuole fusion

Gregory E. Miner, Katherine D. Sullivan, Chi Zhang, Logan R. Hurst, Matthew L. Starr, David A. Rivera-Kohr, Brandon C. Jones, Annie Guo, Rutilio A. Fratti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The accumulation of copper in organisms can lead to altered functions of various pathways and become cytotoxic through the generation of reactive oxygen species. In yeast, cytotoxic metals such as Hg+, Cd2+ and Cu2+ are transported into the lumen of the vacuole through various pumps. Copper ions are initially transported into the cell by the copper transporter Ctr1 at the plasma membrane and sequestered by chaperones and other factors to prevent cellular damage by free cations. Excess copper ions can subsequently be transported into the vacuole lumen by an unknown mechanism. Transport across membranes requires the reduction of Cu2+ to Cu+. Labile copper ions can interact with membranes to alter fluidity, lateral phase separation and fusion. Here we found that CuCl2 potently inhibited vacuole fusion by blocking SNARE pairing. This was accompanied by the inhibition of V-ATPase H+ pumping. Deletion of the vacuolar reductase Fre6 had no effect on the inhibition of fusion by copper. This suggests that Cu2+ is responsible for the inhibition of vacuole fusion and V-ATPase function. This notion is supported by the differential effects of chelators. The Cu2+-specific chelator triethylenetetramine rescued fusion, whereas the Cu+-specific chelator bathocuproine disulfonate had no effect on the inhibited fusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)841-850
Number of pages10
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • Fre6
  • Nyv1
  • Sec17
  • V-ATPase
  • Vam3
  • Vam7
  • membrane fusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology


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