Liver and intestinal fatty acid-binding proteins obtain fatty acids from phospholipid membranes by different mechanisms

Alfred E.A. Thumser, Judith Storch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Intestinal enterocytes contain high concentrations of two cytosolic fatty acid-binding proteins (FABP), liver FABP (L-FABP) and intestinal FABP (I-FABP), which are hypothesized to play a role in cellular fatty acid trafficking. The mechanism(s) by which fatty acids move from membranes to each of these proteins is not known. Here we demonstrate that fluorescent anthroyloxy fatty acid analogues (AOFA) are transferred from phospholipid vesicles to L-FABP versus I-FABP by different mechanisms. For L-FABP a diffusion-mediated transfer process is demonstrated. The AOFA transfer rate from phosphatidylcholine-containing vesicles (POPC) to L-FABP is similar to that observed with another diffusional process, namely inter-membrane AOFA transfer. Furthermore, the AOFA transfer rate was modulated by buffer ionic strength and AOFA solubility, while the transfer rate remained relatively unchanged by the presence of anionic phospholipids in vesicles. In contrast, the data for I-FABP suggest that a transient collisional interaction of I- FABP with the phospholipid membrane occurs during AOFA extraction from the vesicles by the protein. In particular, the presence of the anionic phospholipid cardiolipin in donor vesicles increased the rate of AOFA transfer to I-FABP by 15-fold compared with transfer to POPC vesicles. The effects of ionic strength on transfer suggest that the interaction of I-FABP with cardiolipin-containing vesicles is likely to contain an electrostatic component. Finally, based on the regulation of AOFA transfer to I-FABP compared with transfer from I-FABP, it is hypothesized that apo- and holo- IFABPs adopt conformations which may differentially promote I-FABP-membrane interactions. In summary, the results suggest that I-FABP, but not L-FABP, can directly extract fatty acids from membranes, supporting the concept that IFABP may increase the cytosolic flux of fatty acids via inter-membrane transfer.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)647-656
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of lipid research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology


  • FABP
  • Fatty acid-binding protein
  • Intestine
  • Liver

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