Expression of rat intestinal fatty acid-binding protein in Escherichia coli. Purification and comparison of ligand binding characteristics with that of Escherichia coli-derived rat liver fatty acid-binding protein. Academic Article uri icon


  • Rat intestinal fatty acid-binding protein (I-FABP) is an abundant, 15,124-Da polypeptide found in the cytosol of small intestinal epithelial cells (enterocytes). It is homologous to rat liver fatty acid-binding protein (L-FABP), a 14,273-Da cytosolic protein which is found in enterocytes as well as hepatocytes. It is unclear why the small intestinal epithelium contains two abundant fatty acid-binding proteins. A systematic comparative analysis of the ligand binding characteristics of the two FABPs has not been reported. To undertake such a study we expressed the coding region of a full length I-FABP cDNA in Escherichia coli and purified large quantities of the protein. We also purified rat L-FABP from a similar, previously described expression system (Lowe, J. B., Strauss, A. W., and Gordon, J. I. (1984) J. Biol. Chem. 259, 12696-12704). Analysis of fatty acids associated with each of the homogeneous E. coli-derived FABPs suggested that the two proteins differed in their ligand binding specificity and capacity. All of the fatty acids associated with I-FABP were saturated while 30% of the E. coli fatty acids bound to L-FABP were unsaturated (16:1, 18:1, 18:2). We directly analyzed the ability of I- and L-FABP to bind fatty acids of different chain length and degree of saturation using a hydroxyalkoxypropyl dextran-based assay. Scatchard analysis revealed that each mole of L-FABP can bind up to 2 mol of long chain fatty acid while each mole of I-FABP can bind only 1 mole of fatty acid. L-FABP exhibited a relatively higher affinity for unsaturated fatty acids (oleate, arachidonate) than for saturated fatty acid (palmitate). By contrast, we were not able to detect a significant difference in the affinity of I-FABP for palmitate, oleate, and arachidonate. Neither protein exhibited any appreciable affinity for fatty acids whose chain length was less than C16. The observed differences in ligand affinities and capacities suggest that these proteins may have distinct roles in metabolism and/or compartmentalization of fatty acids within enterocytes.

published proceedings

  • J Biol Chem

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Lowe, J. B., Sacchettini, J. C., Laposata, M., McQuillan, J. J., & Gordon, J. I.

citation count

  • 227

complete list of authors

  • Lowe, JB||Sacchettini, JC||Laposata, M||McQuillan, JJ||Gordon, JI

publication date

  • April 1987