To examine the mechanisms of holo-caeruloplasmin biosynthesis, we measured the serum caeruloplasmin concentration and oxidase activity, hepatic caeruloplasmin mRNA content and hepatocyte caeruloplasmin biosynthesis and secretion in normal and copper-deficient rats. Copper deficiency resulted in a near-complete loss of serum caeruloplasmin oxidase activity, yet only a 60% reduction in serum caeruloplasmin concentration and no change in the abundance of hepatic caeruloplasmin mRNA or the rate of caeruloplasmin biosynthesis. Both interleukin-1 alpha and lipopolysaccharide increased hepatic caeruloplasmin mRNA content and caeruloplasmin biosynthesis in normal and copper-deficient animals, but neither mediator increased caeruloplasmin oxidase activity in the copper-deficient group. Pulse-chase studies in primary hepatocytes from normal and copper-deficient rats revealed that the secretory rates for newly synthesized caeruloplasmin were identical, despite little or no holo-caeruloplasmin synthesis in hepatocytes of copper-deficient rats. We conclude that hepatocyte copper content has no effect on hepatic caeruloplasmin-gene expression or caeruloplasmin biosynthesis and that the incorporation of copper into newly synthesized caeruloplasmin is not a rate-limiting step in the biosynthesis or secretion of the apoprotein from rat hepatocytes.

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