A transfer protein specific for glycolipids has been isolated from bovine brain. As judged by sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, the protein is 68% pure and has a molecular weight of 20 000. Three different assays were employed to study the protein's specificity and glycolipid binding properties. The protein transferred several different neutral glycosphingolipids and ganglioside GM1 equally well, but failed to accelerate phosphatidylcholine or sphingomyelin intervesicular movement. The protein's ability to interact with glycolipids was strongly influenced by the physical properties of the matrix phospholipid in which the glycolipids reside. Both the phase state of the phospholipid matrix and bilayer curvature affected glycolipid intervesicular transfer rates. Protein binding to phospholipid vesicles containing either tritium-labeled or pyrene-labeled glucosylceramide could not be demonstrated by density gradient centrifugation or fluorescence energy transfer measurements, respectively. A specific association of the transfer protein for pyrene-labeled glucosylceramide was found when the fluorescence emission of the pyrene excimer-to-monomer ratio was measured suggesting that a portion of the fluorescent glycolipid was being sequestered from the phospholipid vesicles and was binding to the freely soluble protein.
- transfer protein