Intracellular lipid-binding proteins and their genes

David A. Bernlohr, Melanie A. Simpson, Ann Vogel Hertzel, Leonard J. Banaszak

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

197 Scopus citations


Intracellular lipid-binding proteins are a family of low-molecular- weight single-chain polypeptides that form 1:1 complexes with fatty acids, retinoids, or other hydrophobic ligands. These proteins are products of a large multigene family of unlinked loci distributed throughout the genome. Each lipid-binding proteins exhibits a distinctive pattern of tissue distribution. Transcriptional control, regulated by a combination of peroxisome proliferator activated receptors and CCAAT/enhancer-binding proteins, allows for a variety of both cell and tissue-specific expression patterns. In some cells, fatty acids increase the expression of the lipid- binding protein genes. Fatty acids, or their metabolites, are activators of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor family of transcription factors. Therefore, as the concentration of lipid in the diet increases, the expression of lipid-binding proteins coordinately increase. As revealed by X- ray crystallography, the lipid-binding proteins fold into β-barrels, forming a large internal water-filled cavity. Fatty acid ligands are bound within the cavity, occupying only about one-third of the accessible volume. The bound fatty acid is stabilized via a combination of enthalpic and entropic forces that govern ligand affinity and selectivity. Cytoplasmic lipid-binding proteins are the intracellular receptors for hydrophobic ligands, delivering them to the appropriate site for use as metabolic fuels and regulatory agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-303
Number of pages27
JournalAnnual Review of Nutrition
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Carrier proteins
  • Dietary fat
  • Fatty acids
  • Gene expression
  • Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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