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Genetic disorders of membrane transport. IV. Wilson's disease and Menkes disease.

Copper is an essential transition metal that permits the facile transfer of electrons in a series of critical biochemical pathways. Menkes disease and Wilson's disease are inherited disorders of copper metabolism resulting from the absence or dysfunction of homologous copper-transporting ATPases that reside in the trans-Golgi network of all cells. Despite striking differences in the clinical presentation of these two diseases, the respective ATPases function in precisely the same manner within the cell and the unique clinical features of each disease are entirely the result of the tissue-specific expression of each protein. Elucidation of the basic defect in these rare genetic disorders has provided a valuable heuristic paradigm for understanding the mechanisms of cellular copper homeostasis.

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