Copper (Cu), an essential nutrient, promotes wound healing, however, target of Cu action and underlying mechanisms remain elusive. Cu chaperone Antioxidant-1 (Atox1) in the cytosol supplies Cu to the secretory enzymes such as lysyl oxidase (LOX), while Atox1 in the nucleus functions as a Cu-dependent transcription factor. Using mouse cutaneous wound healing model, here we show that Cu content (by X-ray Fluorescence Microscopy) and nuclear Atox1 are increased after wounding, and that wound healing with and without Cu treatment is impaired in Atox1 -/- mice. Endothelial cell (EC)-specific Atox1 -/- mice and gene transfer of nuclear-target Atox1 in Atox1 -/- mice reveal that Atox1 in ECs as well as transcription factor function of Atox1 are required for wound healing. Mechanistically, Atox1 -/- mice show reduced Atox1 target proteins such as p47phox NADPH oxidase and cyclin D1 as well as extracellular matrix Cu enzyme LOX activity in wound tissues. This in turn results in reducing O 2 â ' production in ECs, NFkB activity, cell proliferation and collagen formation, thereby inhibiting angiogenesis, macrophage recruitment and extracellular matrix maturation. Our findings suggest that Cu-dependent transcription factor/Cu chaperone Atox1 in ECs plays an important role to sense Cu to accelerate wound angiogenesis and healing.
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