Expression of rat intestinal fatty acid binding protein in E. coli and its subsequent structural analysis: a model system for studying the molecular details of fatty acid-protein interaction. Academic Article uri icon


  • A prokaryotic expression vector containing the rec A promoter and a translational enhancer element from the gene 10 leader of bacteriophage T7 was used to direct efficient synthesis of rat intestinal fatty acid binding protein (I-FABP) in E. coli. Expression of I-FABP in E. coli has no apparent, deleterious effects on the organism. High levels of expression of I-FABP mRNA in supE+ strains of E. coli, such as JM101, is associated with suppression of termination at its UGA stop codon. This can be eliminated by using a supE-strain as MG1655 and by site-directed mutagenesis of the cDNA to create an in frame UAA stop codon. E. coli-derived rat I-FABP lacks its initiator Met residues. It has been crystallized with and without bound palmitate. High resolution x-ray crystallographic studies of the 131 residue apo- and holo-proteins have revealed the following. I-FABP contains 10 anti-parallel beta-strands organized into two orthogonally situated beta-sheets. The overall conformation of the protein resembles that of a clam--hence the term beta-clam. The bound ligand is located in the interior of the protein. Its carboxylate group forms part of a unique five member hydrogen bonding network consisting of two ordered solvent molecules as well as the side chains of Arg106 and Gln115. The hydrocarbon chain of the bound C16:0 fatty acid has a distinctive bent conformation with a slight left-handed helical twist. This conformation is maintained by interactions with the side chains of a number of hydrophobic and aromatic amino acids. Apo-I-FABP has a similar overall conformation to holo-I-FABP indicating that the beta-clam structure is stable even without bound ligand. The space occupied by bound ligand in the core of the holo-protein is occupied by additional ordered solvent molecules in the apo-protein. Differences in the side chain orientations of several residues located over a potential opening to the cores of the apo- and holo-proteins suggest that solvent may play an important role in the binding mechanism.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

published proceedings

  • Mol Cell Biochem

author list (cited authors)

  • Sacchettini, J. C., Banaszak, L. J., & Gordon, J. I.

citation count

  • 51

complete list of authors

  • Sacchettini, JC||Banaszak, LJ||Gordon, JI

publication date

  • October 1990