Surface properties of adipocyte lipid-binding protein: Response to lipid binding, and comparison with homologous proteins

Vince J. LiCata, David A. Bernlohr

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42 Scopus citations


Adipocyte lipid-binding protein (ALRP) is one of a family of intracellular lipid-binding proteins (iLBPs) that bind fatty acids, retinoids, and other hydrophobic ligands. The different members of this family exhibit a highly conserved three-dimensional structure; and where structures have been determined both with (holo) and without (apo) bound lipid, observed-conformational changes are extremely small (Ban aszak, et al., 1994, Adv. Prot. Chem. 45, 89; Bernlohr, et al., 1997, Annu. Rev. Nutr. 17, 277). We have examined the electrostatic, hydrophobic, and water accessible surfaces of ALBP in the apo form and of holo forms with a variety of bound ligands. These calculations reveal a number of previously unrecognized changes between apo and holo ALBP, including: 1) an increase in the overall protein surface area when ligand binds, 2) expansion of the binding cavity when ligand is bound, 3) clustering of individual residue exposure increases in the area surrounding the proposed ligand entry portal, and 4) ligand-binding dependent variation in the topology of the electrostatic potential in the area surrounding the ligand entry portal. These focused analyses of the crystallographic structures thus reveal a number of subtle but consistent conformational and surface changes that might serve as markers for differential targeting of protein-lipid complexes within the cell. Most changes are consistent from ligand to ligand, however there are some ligand-specific changes. Comparable calculations with intestinal fatty-acid-binding protein and other vertebrate iLBPs show differences in the electrostatic topology, hydrophobic topology, and in localized changes in solvent exposure near the ligand entry portal. These results provide a basis toward understanding the functional and mechanistic differences among these highly structurally homologous proteins. Further, they suggest that iLBPs from different tissues exhibit one of two predominant end-state structural distributions of the ligand entry portal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)577-589
Number of pages13
JournalProteins: Structure, Function and Genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1998


  • Accessible surface area
  • Electrostatics
  • Fatty acid binding proteins


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