Biochemical and biophysical analysis of the intracellular lipid binding proteins of adipocytes

Melanie A. Simpson, Vince J. LiCata, Natalie Ribarik Coe, David A. Bernlohr

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39 Scopus citations


Adipocytes express two lipid-binding proteins; the major one termed the adipocyte lipid-binding protein or aP2 (ALBP/aP2) and a minor one referred to as the keratinocyte lipid-binding protein (KLBP). In order to evaluate the potential physiological roles for these proteins, their biochemical and biophysical properties have been analyzed and compared. ALBP/aP2 and KLBP exhibit similar binding affinities for most long-chain fatty acids; however, ALBP/aP2 exhibits a two to three-fold increased affinity for myristic, palmitic, oleic and linoleic acids, the predominant fatty acids of adipocytes. As measured by guanidinium hydrochloride denaturation, the stability of ALBP/aP2 is nearly 3 kcal/mol greater than that of KLBP. While the pi of ALBP/ aP2 was determined to be 9.0, that of KLBP is 6.5 suggesting differing net charges at physiological pH. Analysis of surface electrostatic properties of ALBP/aP2 and KLBP revealed similar charge polarity, although differences in the detailed charge distribution exist between the proteins. The distribution of hydrophobic patches was also different between the proteins, ALBP/aP2 has only scattered hydrophobic surfaces while KLBP has a large hydrophobic patch near the ligand portal into the binding cavity. In sum, these results point out that despite the striking similarity between ALBP/aP2 and KLBP in tertiary structure, significant differences in ligand binding and surface properties exist between the two proteins. Hence, while it is tempting to speculate that ALBP/aP2 and KLBP are metabolically interchangeable, careful analysis suggests that the two proteins are quite distinct and likely to play unique metabolic roles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-40
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular and cellular biochemistry
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1999


  • Adipocytes
  • Binding proteins
  • Electrostatics
  • Fatty acids


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